New method for assessing future tree and plant disease risks

ash-treeA new method for assessing the impacts and risks of potential future tree and plant pest and disease outbreaks has been developed by Professor Robert Fraser, of the School of Economics, as one of the key recommendations of today’s (20 May) government report into biosecurity.

Professor Fraser developed the new methodology as one of ten experts from leading
universities sitting on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) Tree
Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce.

The Taskforce’s final report includes a recommendation to develop a ‘prioritised UK Plant Health Risk Register’ – which suggests use of a new ‘horizon-scanning’ methodology developed by Professor Fraser – as one of its key findings.

Professor Fraser said: ‘My role on the Taskforce was very much one of looking ahead and finding a way of assessing impacts and prioritising the risks of future pest and disease outbreaks.

‘One of the Taskforce’s major objectives, as well as looking at ways the UK could strengthen its responsiveness and preparedness, was to find a way of assessing future economic, social and environmental impacts.

‘That way, we can more effectively plan how to prioritise our spending to tackle future tree and plant pest and disease outbreaks.’

The Taskforce was chaired by Professor Christopher Gilligan of the University of Cambridge, and reported to Professor Ian Boyd, Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser. It was established following the incursion of the Chalara pathogen into the UK from the European continent, which killed many ash trees.

Robert Fraser is Professor of Agricultural Economics within the University of Kent’s School of Economics.

Read the Taskforce’s Final Report here.

For further information or interview requests contact the Press Office at the University of Kent

Tel: 01227 823100/823581