RHS expresses concern about imported pests and diseases

Pests and diseases imported on exotic plants are having an adverse effect on the nations existing species, it has been revealed.

A working group led by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) shows the number of plant disease outbreaks has increased by 60 per cent on last years levels, fuelled in large part by a rise in global plant trade.

Whats more, the RHS Advisory Department has noted that climate change means this is only going to get worse.

As a result, the report advocates the creation of effective systems to manage the risks associated with the trading of ornamental plants.

These would take the form of quality assurance systems, which would be supplemented with the existing UK plant inspection programme.

"The current plant inspection programme works exceptionally well for diseases we already know about," commented Dr Simon Thornton Wood, director of science and learning at the RHS.

"But it is the unknown diseases, on plants that would not normally be considered problematic, that are the real cause for concern."

Disease on rhododendrons in the south-west of England caused by Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora kernoviae has been highlighted as a particular problem.