Press release

New portal to unlock the power of data to tackle plant health threats

The new data portal will provide easier access to the plant health information required to assess and respond to threats.

Leaves of a Sweet Chestnut Tree

A new website to improve access to data on plant pests and diseases has been launched today by Defra.

The Plant Health Portal will make it easier for plant health professionals to share and use vital information on plant pests and diseases, unlocking the power of data to better assess threats and determine action to tackle them.

The portal was first proposed in 2014’s Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain, which provided an overview of activity taking place across the UK to improve plant biosecurity. It gives access to a wide range of information about plant health from both Government and non-Government sources, including charities and academic organisations concerned with protecting plant health, like the Royal Horticultural Society.

Chief Plant Health Officer Nicola Spence said:

Protecting our country from plant and tree diseases is important for our economy, environment and health. The Plant Health Portal means we can share expertise and information easily and ensure coordinated and effective responses to threats from all those who work with plants.

The portal is an important tool in upholding good biosecurity—and part of the £37 million we are investing in tree health research from 2012 to 2019 to build the resilience of our trees and plants. While we can’t eliminate all risks, we have stringent plans to deal with threats that are detected, and the portal will help make sure we are up-to-date, well-informed and effective.

The site is currently still under development and is being launched in beta form to enable users to give feedback to inform further improvements. There are plans to add more data and introduce further refinements to the site’s search functions during this second phase.

Data available via the portal will include the risk assessments which underpin UK actions to mitigate pest and disease threats and links to many sites giving access to data supporting plant health, including opportunities for the wider public to get involved.

Users are encouraged to send feedback on the site to Defra at plantpestsrisks@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

Published 29 November 2016