Final Report

Assessment of large-scale plant biosecurity risks to Scotland from non-specialist and online horticultural sales

Plants on sale at a retail store 2021

This project focused on an initial exploration of tree and plant biosecurity risks to Scotland arising from large-scale movement of plants via non-specialist (those for which plants are not their primary product type, e.g., supermarkets, DIY and lifestyle stores) and online plant retailers. By better understanding the characteristics of these retailer types, the plant health behaviours they undertake, and the challenges they face, potential avenues were offered for greater engagement and collaboration on biosecurity with this important, but understudied and hard to reach sector. The project participants conducted in-depth interviews with four large non-specialist retail chains and a sector survey of 100 online plant retailers all based or operating in Scotland.

A summary of the conclusions and recommendations include further engagement with retailers and focussed plant health information, so that retailers are aware of potential new threats as well as those present in their region. Suggestions included i) to work with trade bodies to lead a series of focussed events and campaigns, to enable them to become biosecurity influencers both with their suppliers and customers; ii) to increase uptake of businesses joining the ‘Plant Healthy’ Certification Scheme to raise awareness of biosecurity issues and lead to an industry-led biosecurity standard.  We recommend reading the final report to get a full picture of the  results along with the policy summary that highlights the key findings and suggested actions. 

Image Credit: Plants on sale at a retail store 2021, courtesy of Chris R J Pollard