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Woodland biosecurity guidance published

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The Forestry Commission has published generic guidance on a range of simple ‘biosecurity’ measures which people can take to help protect Britain’s trees, woods and forests from damaging pests and diseases.

Announcing its publication, Dr John Morgan, Head of the Commission's Plant Health Service, said,

“The UK’s trees, woods and forests face unprecedented levels of threat from non-native pests and diseases, many of which have entered the country on internationally traded products.

“These pests and diseases are usually kept in check by indigenous predators and environmental conditions in their natural ecological niches in other parts of the world. However, partly because we are an island nation, these natural checks and controls are often not present in the UK, allowing the pests and diseases to be much more destructive when they arrive here.

“The warming climate is also increasing the risk that some of these organisms may find it easier to become permanently established here.

“Our first line of defence is to try to prevent them from entering the UK in the first place, but we need to be prepared for the fact that some will get in. When that happens we must do everything we can to eradicate them or, if that proves impracticable, to contain and control them as best we can.

“This guidance should prove an invaluable aid to many people who have to visit woods and forests in the course of their duties or recreation, by giving them useful advice on steps they can take to avoid accidentally spreading these damaging organisms on their clothes, footwear, vehicles and by other means.”

The document is available from a link on the Forestry Commission website at and other pages in the Pests and Diseases area of the website.

  • The Forestry Commission, Defra, Fera, the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the private and third sectors, have drawn up an integrated, cross-sectoral Tree Health and Biosecurity Action Plan. The plan is intended to ensure that the UK’s defences against tree and woodland pests and diseases are as robust as possible. In addition the UK is fully engaged with the review of the European Union’s plant health regime to ensure that it is for purpose in the 21st-century global trading environment.
  • Follow tree and forest pest and disease developments at


  • “Biosecurity” is short for “biological security”. It refers to measures taken to protect, or keep secure, one group of biological organisms - in this case trees, woods and forests - from other, harmful biological organisms, such as disease-causing pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, certain insects, and invasive plants and animals.

Media contact: Charlton Clark, 0131 314 6500