The #PlantHealth4Life campaign is back! Europe unites its efforts for plant health, biodiversity and the economy

The #PlantHealth4Life campaign is back!  Europe unites its efforts for plant health, biodiversity and the economy

We are starting the second year of the #PlantHealth4Life campaign. Its aim is to increase awareness of plant health among Europeans and to create a sense of collective responsibility for their common good. Its main slogan is: “Take care of the health of plants, protect life.” The campaign is run by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Commission (EC) and 22 partner organizations operating in individual European Union Member States. This year, the campaign will also be implemented in Poland!

How does plant health affect our lives?

Plants make up 80% of the food we eat every day. They also produce 98% of the oxygen we breathe. But that's not all – healthy plants mean good crops in agriculture. This, in turn, affects the availability of food and its prices for consumers. Climate change and human activities such as trade and travel are putting strong pressure on plants. The spread of plant pests and diseases can have devastating economic and environmental consequences.

pine woodworm (Bursaphelenchus xylophilus) – the main cause of the dangerous pine wilt disease – is considered one of the most dangerous pests of pine stands in Europe. During trade, it can be easily transmitted by certain plants, wood obtained from them, as well as by DMO wooden packaging material (e.g. pallets), commonly used to transport goods.

Pests are pests, bacteria, viruses and fungi that are harmful to plants. They are identified in EU legislation as posing a phytosanitary risk to plants grown in the EU or present in the environment. For example: from packages inhabited by the pest, nematodes may be transferred to nearby trees, which threatens an economic and ecological disaster in coniferous forests in Poland. This is exactly what happened in Portugal, and as a result, the nematode spread throughout the country. Almost 70% of the forested area in Poland are coniferous forests, dominated by Scots pine. (Pinius silvestris) the host of this nematode. The introduction of PWN to Poland could result in losses amounting to billions of zlotys. Forest restoration itself is a long-term process, lasting decades.

In order to prevent the introduction into the territory of the European Union of goods of plant origin infected by pests, inspectors of the State Plant Protection and Seed Inspection (national plant protection organization operating in Poland – carry out border phytosanitary inspections every day. Only in 2023 inspectors they detained 428 parcelsthat did not meet EU requirements.

Taking preventive measures is a more effective approach than trying to eradicate them once they appear on crops or in the environment. In some cases, the damage cannot be reversed. By focusing on prevention, we can ensure that dangerous pests do not cross EU borders.

Meanwhile, many European citizens are still not sufficiently aware of why plant health is so important. The #PlantHealth4Life campaign aims to raise collective awareness of the threats to plant health and the role each of us must play to protect them.

Plant health impacts not only the environment, economy and European food chain, but also our present and future. By taking care of the health of plants, we protect life. That's why we're proud to see Europeans' commitment to this topic, as evidenced by the unprecedented participation of Member States in the #PlantHealth4Life campaign – he said Tobin Robinson, Head of the EFSA Plants Unit, who will present the campaign during the symposium entitled “Plant health without borders” organized on May 15 this year. in Brussels by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Aware, well-informed European citizens about plant health can help protect and preserve our biodiversity – she said Claire Bury, Deputy Director-General for Food Sustainability at DG SANTE. – Plant health is a priority for the European Commission under the One Health approach. By informing people about the importance of not introducing pests into the European Union and teaching them how to take appropriate action, together we can make a difference.”

Get involved!

The actions taken by every European are crucial to maintaining plant health. Visit the campaign website #PlantHealth4Life and find out how you can protect plant health. Here you'll find information available in all EU languages, including press releases, social media posts and videos that you can share on your channels.

This year the campaign is addressed in particular to:

  • People traveling outside the European Union

Are you traveling outside the EU? If during your adventures abroad you find an exotic plant that steals your heart, take a photo of it – do not take the seeds or any of its parts with you on your return trip. When carrying plants, their parts or seeds in your luggage, you may take with you stowaways – plant pests and diseases unknown in Europe.

  • Plant enthusiasts

Pests can also cross European borders on plants that we buy for our homes and gardens if they have not been checked and do not have the appropriate certificates. When you buy plants online from outside the European Union, make sure that they come from reliable sources and have a phytosanitary certificate.

  • Parents

It is worth talking about the importance of plants with your children to make the younger generation ambassadors of their health.

There will be many opportunities to take part in the campaign in the coming months – it will be present at fairs, exhibitions and schools in participating countries. Check your national campaign website to find out what's happening in Poland and stay up to date with current information!

About the campaign

#PlantHealth4Life is a multi-year campaign developed at the request of the European Commission, based on an in-depth analysis of views and behaviors related to plant health across the European Union. This year, the campaign will cover 21 Member States and one candidate country, doubling its reach from last year. These countries are: Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Hungary and Montenegro.

Source: EFSA

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