You have eleven more months to celebrate the International Year of Plant Health. The United Nations General Assembly declared it with the slogan “Protecting Plants, Protecting Life.”
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization explains the reasons behind the declaration this way:
Plant health is increasingly under threat. Climate change and human activities have altered ecosystems, reducing biodiversity and creating new niches where pests can thrive. At the same time, international travel and trade has tripled in volume in the last decade and can quickly spread pests and diseases around the world causing great damage to native plants and the environment.
I can see the truth behind that statement every time I travel around Illinois, where I live. The Emerald Ash Borer, a beetle that attacks ash trees, has turned once-beautiful forests into vast stands of dead trees. In Italy, olive trees are being killed by xylella fastidiosa, a plant bacteria. A fungus may wipe out the most common banana.
Plants make up 80% of the food we eat and produce 98% of the oxygen we breathe.
We can do a lot to help. For starters, be careful when taking plants and plant products with you when you travel because they may spread plant pests and diseases. Be cautious when ordering plants and plant products online or through postal services because small packages can easily bypass regular phytosanitary controls. Try to manage or reduce your environmental footprint and protect and manage natural resources.
Plants will thank you.