APPLICANTS for two major planting funds must commit to sourcing trees from certified suppliers - in a bid to combat the growing threat of diseases and pests. 

The Biosecure Procurement Requirement means that proposals funded by the England Woodland Creation Offer and the Future Farming Tree Health Pilot will have to use trees accredited by the Plant Healthy Certification Scheme or a Ready to Plant assessment, provided by Fera Science. 

Announced today by Defra and the Forestry Commission and enforced from June, it's hoped the pilot will protect the nation's trees, with pests such as the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle and Phytophthora pluvialis, a new disease, currently wreaking havoc in parts of the country. 

READ MORE: Phytophthora Pluvialis now confirmed in every part of mainland Britain after Welsh find

Professor Nicola Spence, UK chief plant health officer, said: “Our biosecurity standards are among the highest in Europe. As we build back greener, we must consider new and ambitious ways to not simply maintain these standards but further strengthen them. 

“By leading the way with this new pilot, we are addressing the significant and increasing threat of pests and diseases and building a strong biosecurity culture across the country.” 

This pilot will enable suppliers to demonstrate that their operational practices comply with the industry benchmark Plant Health Management Standard.

This Standard includes protocols which are key to developing a robust plant health management system and sets out practical requirements for suppliers to help protect the plant supply chain. 

Sir William Worsley, Forestry Commission Chair, said: “Our nation’s biosecurity will be integral to the success of our tree planting ambitions. 

Forestry Journal: Prof Nicola Spence Prof Nicola Spence

“This pilot will ensure that the forestry sector plays its role in upholding rigorous standards of biosecurity and in doing so, safeguards our much-loved trees and forests for generations to come.” 

For more information on the Biosecure Procurement Pilot Requirement, read this Forestry Commission blog.