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Scottish plant health centre launched

The Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) has provided funding to bring together a number of Scottish research organisations to establish a new virtual Centre of Expertise for Plant Health.


Marianne   Curtis

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Marianne   Curtis
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The Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) has provided funding to bring together a number of Scottish research organisations to establish a new virtual Centre of Expertise for Plant Health.

Working with the recently appointed Chief Plant Health Officer for Scotland, Professor Gerry Saddler from Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), the Centre will bring together key plant sectors to co-ordinate plant health needs and activities across Scotland.

It will be headed up by the James Hutton Institute, along with sector leads from Scotland’s Rural College, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and Forest Research, together with partners from the universities of Edinburgh, Stirling and Strathclyde, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS), each bringing with them a range of skills from understanding public perceptions to long-term disease forecasting.


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Increasing challege

At the launch of the centre, cabinet secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Protecting Scotland from the environmental, economic and social consequences of plant pest and disease threats is becoming increasingly challenging. That is why I am pleased to announce the creation of the virtual Centre of Expertise for Plant Health.”

Professor Ian Toth, the centre’s director, commented: “We are delighted the new Centre is underway, and we look forward to engaging with experts and stakeholders from all sectors of plant health to work together for the people of Scotland. We have no doubts about the challenges ahead, but we are hugely excited to be part of this new initiative.”

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick added: “Our climate is changing, and that brings challenges, and there is an increasing number of channels – internet trading, personal imports etc – that pose plant health risks. We need to be ahead of the game and ready to combat these threats. We are therefore delighted that Scottish Government has today announced a Centre of Excellence for Plant Health which will keep Scotland’s crops in the best of health.”

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