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Methods for prioritising tree and plant pests and pathogens (Single tender with Fera) - TH0120

Problems with the tree disease Ash dieback in 2012 led Defra to establish an Expert Taskforce to advise on how the UK should protect tree health and guard against plant pests and diseases. The first recommendation of the Taskforce was to develop a single national Plant Health Risk Register, to identify those pests and diseases that pose the greatest threats and help in prioritising action against them.
In response to this recommendation, Defra has started a phased process to develop a Risk Register. The first phase is already well underway and will produce a ‘Phase 1’ Risk Register. By mid-July 2013, over 30 pests had been assessed and it is planned to complete the Phase 1 Risk Register by the end of September.
The Phase 1 work has identified areas where further development is needed to improve the Risk Register. These include:
• How to quantify the magnitude and likelihood of pest and disease impacts on plants and trees
• Timescales over which impacts and values at risk are estimated, including rates of spread
• How to value impacts on plants, taking account of economic, environmental and social considerations
• The costs and acceptability of actions to manage risk
• Different risks in different parts of the UK
• How to deal with uncertainty.
This project will contribute to Phase 2 of the Risk Register project. It will develop methodology to enable the phase 2 risk register to achieve more fully the requirements set out by the Expert Taskforce. In doing so it will take account of the work already done in Phase 1 and address the points identified by Phase 1 as requiring further work (listed above). It will also consider other potentially relevant approaches, from existing pest risk analysis practice, from other countries, from other areas of risk (e.g. animal health) and from the research literature, and incorporate and adapt those elements where relevant.
The most promising approaches will be combined into a prototype Phase 2 Risk Register and tested with a subset of the pests and pathogens that were assessed in Phase 1. Selected end-users and policy staff will participate in 2 workshops during the project, to ensure the approach taken is practical for routine use, and delivers outputs that are suitable for use in decision-making.
To develop methodology for a Phase 2 Plant Health Risk Register, drawing on the range of relevant existing approaches as appropriate, and test its performance and practicality with a selection of tree and plant pests and pathogens by 31 March 2014.

The Lead Contractor is the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) and will be responsible for project management and delivery. At inception of the project there will be one subcontractor, Forest Research. Fera and Forest Research have complementary expertise in pest risk analysis, Forest Research having more emphasis on trees and Fera on other plants. The Forestry Commission will also contribute to the project from the start, but receive only travel and subsistence expenses (via Fera). Rob Fraser, Professor of Agricultural Economics at Kent University and a member of the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce will assist the project team in an advisory capacity, and receive travel and subsistence expenses (via Fera).

It is expected that additional subcontractors will be added to the project after the first workshop, to provide specific expertise required for the development and testing of methodologies selected for inclusion in the prototype Phase 2 Risk Register. The selection of additional subcontractors and division of the requested budget between them will be decided by Fera, Forest Research and the Forestry Commission in consultation with the Defra project officer.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2013

To: 2014

Cost: £119,669
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Decision Support