Developed in partnership with SGD, BALI and APL, the toolkit aims to embed biosecurity best practice in every stage of a landscape project

Oak and poplar woodland. © Harry Watkins

The Landscape Institute (LI) has published a new plant health and biosecurity toolkit to help landscape professionals tackle the pests and diseases that threaten our landscapes.

Plant health and biosecurity issues present a major threat to ecosystem resilience. And with the uncertainty in the UK’s trading future with the EU, it is crucial that those in the landscape sector implement biosecurity principles at every stage of their work.


A-Z species selection guide

When landscape professionals develop their concepts and choose their plants, it is vital that they understand the importance of species selection and using healthy and risk-free plants.

One important practical feature of the toolkit is the species selection guide – an A to Z list of the most common genera that landscape professionals encounter. The guide sets out the risks from pests and diseases and the actions to take to mitigate them. This new toolkit makes the information Defra’s UK Plant Health Risk Register more accessible and digestible to a wider audience of practitioners who may know a lot about plants, but not necessarily as much about pests.

However, pests and diseases can be very damaging in areas where they have few natural control measures or predators. In 30 years, Dutch elm disease has killed some 60 million British elms, and its effects persist today. More recent examples include ash dieback, oak processionary moth, sweet chestnut blight and Massaria disease of plane trees. These new pests and diseases have economic, social and environmental effects.Plant pests and diseases are a normal characteristic of the environment. They usually exist in equilibrium with their hosts, which naturally limits their spread. At a landscape scale, some pests and diseases can be even be beneficial in terms of habitat creation and the carbon cycle.

Landscape consultants now have the opportunity to offer a solution to this industry-wide problem. Landscape architects, garden designers and contractors all specify plants and materials in their work. The LI’s new biosecurity toolkit sets out clear guidance for each stage of a project, defining the processes to be adopted and promoting best practice across the industry.

A milestone in collaborative working

Launched in partnership with the Society of Garden Designers (SGD), the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) and the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL), the toolkit represents a milestone in collaborative working in the landscape sector.

Landscape architects, garden designers and contractors all specify plants and materials in their work. But to date, there has been little biosecurity guidance aimed specifically at these professionals.

‘Many associations individually provide guidance on biosecurity, but their advice largely focuses on foresters, nurseries and contractors,’ said Landscape Institute President Adam White.

‘As a professional body, we are keen to see better skills and standards developed. This toolkit should align well with the Plant Health Management Standard, which focuses on risk throughout the ornamental and amenity plant supply chain.

‘It is really important that designers really think about plants, where they are coming from and how we can protect them from any further disease.

‘It is fantastic to be launching this guide as part of a wider industry partnership. Introducing this toolkit to delegates at our biosecurity CPD day at Kew Gardens on Friday 14 June will be the first step in encouraging members to adapt their thinking about biosecurity at every stage of their work.’

An essential part of every landscape project

Harry Watkins, Chair of the Landscape Institute biosecurity working group said: ‘Biosecurity is a major emerging issue for landscape consultants, affecting every stage of the work we undertake – from landscape assessment through to design, specification, contract administration and landscape management.

‘We know well the devastation caused by Dutch elm disease and ash dieback, but the potential impact of pests and pathogens is much wider and could have landscape-scale consequences. We need to be prepared and develop new forms of practice.

‘The Landscape Institute has coordinated an industry-wide response, preparing the first piece of guidance aimed specifically at those working in landscape assessment, design and management. This toolkit embeds the principles of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and the UK Biological Security Strategy, and will become an essential part of every landscape project.’

Read the new Biosecurity Toolkit for Landscape Consultants here.

‘Biosecurity is something that affects the whole industry and failure to plan ahead could be catastrophic.

‘The Association of Professional Landscapers are pleased to be supporting this initiative by the Landscape Institute and feel it sits excellently with the HTA’s Plant Health Management Standard.

‘The only way these issues can be successfully controlled is for the leading trade bodies to work together and deliver combined support and information.

‘These initiatives provide this and will only serve to better support this great industry and the people who work in it.’

Phil Tremayne, General Manager at the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL)

‘BALI is committed to championing the highest standards of design, construction and maintenance in the landscape industry. We proudly support the activities of the landscape profession while respecting both the important role our members play as custodians of the landscape, and the intrinsic value of protecting the environment.

‘Working closely with members, BALI has developed its own biosecurity principles, which help to protect and secure the future of the wider environment and support the growth and success of our members’ businesses. The Association is also delighted to have joined forces with other leading professional bodies within the industry, including the Landscape Institute, to launch this Consultant’s Toolkit.

‘BALI will be actively encouraging its members to use the toolkit as a principal guide to best practice, ensuring we continue to create, revive, manage and maintain healthy landscapes for this generation and future generations to come.’

Darren Taylor, Marketing and Communications Manager at the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI)


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