Best practice for garden biosecurity

The plants in the RBGE Living Collection are under greater threat from pests and diseases than ever before. For many years, RBGE has been very careful about the source and health of any new plant material brought into each of its gardens. Worldwide, however, there has been a wider long-term trend of an ever-increasing volume and speed of movement of plants in trade from a wide variety of sources. This unfortunately has increased the chances of new pests and diseases arriving to our shores with imported plants, and subsequently establishing and spreading by natural means. For example, disease-causing microbes such as Phytophthora ramorum, first recorded in the UK in 2002; and Hymenoscyphus fraxineaus (Ash Dieback), first recorded in the UK in 2012, are dispersed and spread through water, rain splash, and wind. Furthermore, as our climate changes, it becomes favourable to a new range of pests and pathogens, further increasing the risk. RBGE is keen to raise awareness to all our visitors of the potential threats and reduce the risk posed to the plants in the Living Collection across all four gardens from these new pest and diseases.

Continually reviewing biosecurity measures and risk assessing new pests and pathogens in the garden is paramount to the good curation of the garden. We are currently renewing our Methods Statements for working in and outside the Gardens, based on peer-reviewed research and industry-wide best practice. As these revisions are complete, they will be available here.

Methods statements

Plant health protocols for the reintroduction of native plants. Frachon, N. 2013. Sibbaldia: The Journal of Botanic Garden Horticulture. No 11, pp 53-60. Abstract: Many botanic gardens and conservation agencies are now cultivating threatened native species specifically for reintroduction programmes in response to the second part of Target 8 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). While collection, cultivation and reintroduction techniques are frequently discussed in workshops and described in papers, few seem to have considered the threats of introducing non-native pests, diseases, weeds and hybrids between different populations of the same species. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has been cultivating plants for its Target 8 programme since 2005 and now grows 82 per cent threatened Scottish species. It is running active reintroduction programmes for nine of these species with programmes planned for a further five species. In recent years increasing attention has been paid to reducing the risks of introducing non-native organisms and hybrids between different populations of native species into the wild.This paper describes the protocols that have been developed, including verification, screening for pests and diseases, averting spontaneous hybridisation and preparing plants for reintroduction.

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