TODAY’s launch of the International Year of Plant Health at Parliament House, Canberra, aims to focus attention across Australia on the protection of plants from pests and diseases.
For the first time in history, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly has turned global attention to plant health by declaring 2020 the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH).
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) director general, Qu Dongyu, speaking at the launch via pre-recorded video message, acknowledged the impact of the terrible bushfires on communities and our unique biodiversity.
“2020 is a unique opportunity to increase global awareness of the important role of plant health for life on earth and to promote activities in favour of preserving and sustaining global plant genetic resources,” he said.
“Around the world plant pests and diseases leave millions of people without food and negatively affect agriculture, the primary source of income for rural poor communities. Protecting plants from pests and keeping them healthy, starts with prevention.”
Government, industry and research leaders joined diplomats to Australia to mark the commencement of the year’s program of plant health events and activities being held around Australia.
Plant Health Australia executive director and chief executive officer and national coordinator for the government-industry partnership for plant biosecurity, Greg Fraser, said the year presented Australia with a unique opportunity for innovative collaboration in plant health.
“Peak industry bodies, research and development corporations, botanic gardens, governments and the community will partner together and with the international plant health community to find new ways of combating emerging plant pest threats,” he said.
Australian plant industry research and development corporations are collaborating on addressing high priority plant health risks through the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative.
“Our top plant pest threat, Xylella fastidiosa, is having catastrophic impacts overseas and threatens 350 commercial, ornamental and native plant species in Australia, so a coordinator is being jointly funded by Wine Australia and Hort Innovation, to ensure Australia is prepared for it,” Mr Fraser said.
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment chief plant protection officer, Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith, said to date Australia’s isolation and strong biosecurity measures had helped protect crops and the environment from many of the world’s most destructive plant pests, but the threat was growing.
“Global traffic is rapidly increasing, so in the next five years the number of shipping containers arriving into Australia is predicted to rise by 75 per cent. Each shipping container has the potential to carry minute, unwanted plant pathogens or pests such as the brown marmorated stink bug,” she said.
“The challenge to keep Australia free from exotic pests and diseases is growing increasingly difficult and requires new, evolving, creative solutions and global efforts to manage the ever-changing biosecurity risks.”
Source: Plant Health Australia
Report unusual sightings to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881.
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