Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative
Trees make a huge impact on our rural and urban landscapes and contribute to a vital part of our heritage, rural economy and well-being. Preserving their health is especially important as the environment changes. In the last few years, several new pests and pathogens have emerged as significant risks to the UK’s woodlands, commercial forests and urban trees. Diseases such as acute oak decline and red pine needle blight have become established in the UK, and the outbreak of ash dieback at the end of 2012 illustrates how rapidly new diseases can take hold, and the scale of the threat they can pose to trees. There is a range of other threats on the horizon. (See Briefing from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology attached)
The Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) Partnership has established a new initiative to fund research into tree pests and pathogens, and associated plant biosecurity. At least £7M will be available for research projects.
The initiative is a milestone for the LWEC Partnership's progress on this issue which was the focus of their workshop held in May 2011 which fed into the publication of Defra's Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Action Plan.
Also, in June 2012 The UK Plant Health Strategy Board published the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Action Plan progress report on the Defra website detailing the achievements made with the actions from the Plan’s launch in October 2011 to May 2012.
The initiative will require collaboration between specialists in tree or forest research, and leading-edge scientists from the wider natural, biological, social, economic or other relevant research communities who have other, broader expertise that could help to advance our knowledge about tree health and disease.
Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative: Phase 1 (closed)
Phase 1 of the initiative sought applications for ‘Capacity and Consortium-Building Awards’, to bring together the existing tree health research community and the wider research community. LWEC held a meetingin London in September2012 to explain the rationale behind the initiativeand to describe some of the current issues in tree health and plant biosecurity. September's meeting gave participants the opportunity to meet researchers from a variety of disciplines and to start discussions which might lead to potential applications to the call. The presentations given at the meeting are available below (Files are named by presenter).
Seven applications were funded by Defra.
Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative: Phase 2
LWEC held a meeting in London on 14th February 2013 to provide more information about this initiative. The "Town Meeting" also provided an opportunity for researchers not currently working on tree health but with expertise which may be relevant to this area to meet potential collaborative partners, and learn more about ongoing research in this area, through speed networking and brainstorming sessions.
A call for applications for research grants is to be released shortly.