Experts join forces at new virtual Plant Health Centre

Prof Fiona Burnett (sector lead, agriculture), Sonia Humphris (centre manager), Prof Chris Quine (sector lead, forestry), Prof Gerry Sadler (Chief Plant Health Officer for Scotland), Prof Ian Toth (centre director) and Prof Pete  Hollingsworth (sector lead, environment and horticulture) at the official Plant Health Centre launch at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Prof Fiona Burnett (sector lead, agriculture), Sonia Humphris (centre manager), Prof Chris Quine (sector lead, forestry), Prof Gerry Sadler (Chief Plant Health Officer for Scotland), Prof Ian Toth (centre director) and Prof Pete Hollingsworth (sector lead, environment and horticulture) at the official Plant Health Centre launch at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

A new virtual Plant Health Centre has been launched to tackle problems that would previously have been worked on in many different sectors.

At the launch in Edinburgh, the centre director, Professor Ian Toth from the James Hutton Institute, told experts and stakeholders from the worlds of forestry, horticulture, the environment and agriculture that plant diseases don’t respect borders.

“They cause problems across all plant species, from iconic forest trees to the smallest of wild flowers and taking in ornamentals, garden plants and all our crop species as they go,” he said.

“With thousands of plant species in Scotland and 1,000 novel pests and diseases listed on the UK plant health risk register, there has never been a more crucial time to pool resources and bring scientists and stakeholders together to act.”

The Plant Health Centre is funded by the Scottish Government and is an interdisciplinary consortium based around the strengths and expertise of 10 leading research organisations: Forest Research, the James Hutton Institute, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scotland’s Rural College, the universities of Strathclyde, Exeter and Edinburgh, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) and Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland.

Chief plant health officer for Scotland, Professor Gerry Saddler of SASA, marked the occasion at the Royal Botanic Garden by planting a Sorbus arranensis tree which was carefully and locally sourced to ensure its health and provenance.

More information can be found at www.planthealthcentre.scot.

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