Ireland has joined a European-wide effort to underscore the importance of plant health.

The 'Plant Health 4 Life' campaign is led by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Commission (EC) and is active in 22 European member states.

Speaking about the campaign, Minister of State for land use and biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett said: "We are proud to stand alongside our European partners to raise awareness of the profound interdependence between plant health and our collective well-being.

"This collaborative effort is a unique opportunity to engage citizens from all walks of life - be it the intrepid traveller, the conscientious gardener or the vigilant parent - in safeguarding plant health."

Importing plants

Chief plant health officer for Ireland Louise Byrne added that the Department of Agriculture conducts comprehensive inspections on imports of regulated plants and plant products.

However, a critical element is educating the public across all spectrums, from commercial importers to amateur gardeners, on the need for heightened awareness of the issues at stake and to not attempt to import unchecked plants and plant products that pose a risk to Ireland.

The campaign urges travellers not to bring back any plants, flowers, seeds, fruits or vegetables from outside the EU, as these items may harbour plant pests or diseases detrimental to native flora.

Consumers are also advised to only buy plants and seeds online if accompanied by a valid phytosanitary or plant health certificate.

Embracing good plant hygiene practices and promptly addressing signs of plant pests or diseases in home gardens and communal outdoor spaces will also prevent their spread to neighbouring plants and natural habitats.


Speaking on Ireland’s involvement in the campaign, leading Irish garden designer Diarmuid Gavin said: "Safeguarding Irish plant health is paramount. As gardeners, we hold the power to effect change - by allowing our gardens to flourish naturally, propagating your own plants from seeds, sourcing plants responsibly and vigilantly monitoring for abnormalities, we can collectively protect our botanical heritage."

Deputy director-general for food sustainability of DG Santé Claire Bury stated: "Informed European citizens armed with accurate information on plant health can help protect and preserve our biodiversity.

"Plant health is a priority for the European Commission within the One Health approach.

"By informing people about the importance of not importing pests into the European Union and empowering them with the knowledge to take appropriate actions, we can make a difference."