The “Don’t Risk it!” Plant Health awareness raising campaign for 2019 was launched by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Andrew Doyle today, Thursday, May 30.

The campaign is targeted at international travellers, tourists and commercial businesses who are bringing plants, plant products and other high-risk items made of plant material into Ireland from abroad.

Plant health is closely linked with food safety, food security and protection of the wider environment, according to the Department of Agriculture, with plants also playing a vital role with pollinators in biodiversity.

The aim of the “Don’t Risk It!” campaign is to raise awareness around the importance of plant health and how the public can play a part in protecting it.

Commenting at the event, Minister Doyle said: “I am delighted to launch this year’s plant health awareness raising initiative by my department at Bloom.

“My department is committed to the protection of Ireland’s horticulture industry and wider environment from exotic pests and diseases.”

The minster encouraged people to visit his department at stand 17 in the Floral Pavilion at Bloom, and engage with them on this topic.

‘Don’t Risk It’

The campaign is endorsed by the European Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) and the European Commission via revised plant health legislation.

One of the pathways of plant harmful organisms entering Ireland is through people bringing plants or plant products into the country which contain these pests/diseases, the department warns.

The objective of the campaign is to highlight the social, environmental and economic impact of bringing in infected plant material or quarantine pests and diseases into Ireland.

These impacts can be enormous; an example of this is Xylella fastidiosa, which is a new disease for Europe, affecting over 200 plant species such as oak, beech, ash, rosemary and lavender.

It is found in parts of Italy, France and Spain with devastating effects. It is essential both from an economic and environmental perspective that diseases such as this are prevented from entering and becoming established in Ireland, the department warns.

Minister Doyle concluded: “I believe that this campaign will generate greater awareness among the general public of this serious issue and that people will think twice and decide when abroad, not to risk it but instead leave all plants and plant products in that country.”

For those interested, more details on the matter can be obtained on the department’s website here.