‘Plant Healthy’ is a voluntary scheme set up by the Plant Health Alliance which promotes the implementation of high biosecurity management standards within the horticultural sector to protect and safeguard our industry and the wider environment. So far, we have performed very well in our pre-audit and are looking to become fully certified by March 2021. The scheme requires the collaboration of our entire business, from the plant buyers and our goods-in team, to our workforce out on site and in the nursery, and even our Plant Centre shop and Rosara furniture team.
We feel these additional biosecurity measures are essential and of fundamental importance to prevent potential ecological disasters which threaten our precious landscape. In 2012, a new fungal disease was reported in south-east England: Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (Ash dieback disease). Since then, it has caused the destruction of thousands of these iconic trees, either through direct infection or through preventative felling in a bid to curb the spread.
Now a new threat is looming on the horizon, which has the potential to cause even greater losses. According to the European Commission, Xylella fastidiosa is considered to be one of the most dangerous plant bacteria in the world. It is a bacterial pathogen spread by sap-sucking insects but the biggest worry is that it is not host-specific. This means it is not confined to just one plant species, like Ash dieback, but has the potential to infect many different plant species, making its elimination almost impossible. It was found in the Italian olive groves in 2013 and it has since caused the loss of over 11 million trees, bringing the end to many long-running family businesses and severely impacting the local economy.