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The importance of Biosecurity


With Ash die-back (Chalara fraxinea) getting a lot of media coverage recently biosecurity has never been more important

The threat to our forests and woodlands has never been greater. Increased global trade and the movement of goods between countries means an increased risk of spreading pests and diseases, which may travel hidden in plant products, packaging and shipping crates. Trees and plants in Britain are now vulnerable to a range of new pests and diseases, and
outbreaks can seriously threaten sustainable forest management.

Biosecurity is a set of precautions that aim to prevent the introduction and spread of harmful organisms. These may be pests, pathogens or invasive species. Biosecurity measures are the practical steps designed to minimise the risk of introducing or spreading pests and diseases.

It is not always possible to see pests and diseases and they can be transmitted accidentally by people moving between different forests and woodlands. Pests are most often transported in soil or organic material, such as plant debris, that can be carried on footwear or by the wheels of vehicles and forest machinery. Diseases may also be spread via the equipment used for tree work. Some pathogens are dispersed in water and so the risk of these being spread increases when conditions are wet.

It's important to use the appropriate biosecurity measures during visits to sites at risk, such as:

• Clean footwear and outerwear regularly; ensure they are visually free from soil and organic debris.

• Plan to visit highest-risk sites last.

• Clean footwear and outerwear
between site visits by removing leaves,
soil and other organic material.

• Spray cleaned footwear and outerwear
with disinfectant until it runs off
(boots can be dipped in disinfectant).

• Clean vehicles regularly; do not let mud
and organic debris accumulate on tyres,
wheels or underwheel arches.

• Avoid vehicular access to high-risk sites –
park off-site if possible.

• Keep to established hard tracks.

• Restrict the equipment taken onto a site – take only what you need for the task.

• Ensure all tools and equipment are clean,
serviceable and free from organic debris.

• When taking samples, clean and
disinfect cutting tools after each sample.
• Clean and disinfect other tools and
equipment before leaving the site.

• Keep any samples in sealed containers. 

The importance of Biosecurity