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Cyprus joins EFSA and European Commission in the #PlantHealth4Life campaign

EFSA, the European Commission and their partners, Member States of the European Union, are launching the #PlantHealth4Life campaign, with Cyprus participating via its National Plant Protection Organisation -the Department of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment.

According to a relevant announcement, the campaign aims to raise the public’s awareness of plant health and its link with our everyday life.

As noted in the announcement, plants are the backbone of life on Earth: they provide us with the air we breathe and the food we eat. Today, plants are under heavy pressure due to climate change and human activities such as trade and travel. Plant pests can cause devastating economic and environmental losses. For example, the pine wood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, which is found in Portugal and Spain has destroyed huge forest areas with pine trees in these countries.

Additionally, the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, for example, killed millions of olive trees in the Italian region of Apulia, with cases also reported in other Member States in Southern Europe. The Department of Agriculture keeps importers and nurseries aware of the dangers while the systematic controls on plant imports have so far prevented the introduction of the bacterium in question into the Republic of Cyprus.

On the other hand, there are examples of pests that threaten the ecosystems of our country. Characteristic examples being the red palm weevil, Rhynchoforus ferrugineus that provoked extreme damage to palm trees across the country this last decade.

“Plant health is fundamental to our wellbeing and the environment. EFSA, the Commission and Member States work together to protect the EU from plant pests and diseases. The #PlantHealth4Life campaign is a joint initiative to raise citizens’ awareness about plant health risks. By engaging individuals across the EU, we aim to create a collective responsibility to keeping plants healthy," said EFSA’s Executive Director, Bernhard Url.

“With One-Health being very high on the agenda of the European Commission, protection from plant pests and diseases coming into the EU is a priority for us all. The smallest actions can have the biggest effects. This starts with being armed with the right information and making sure that everyone understands this fight and contributes in a meaningful way to the EU’s leading role in protecting our biodiversity," said Claire Bury, Deputy Director-General for Food Sustainability of DG SANTE.

“The flora of our country is an integral part of our Cypriot cultural identity. Ensuring the health of the forests of Cyprus, urban greenery, and agriculture, is not just a responsibility but a duty of all of us”, said Dr Anthemis Melifronidou – Pantelidou, Head of Plant Health and Marketing Standards of Agricultural Products Sector, Department of Agriculture.

Actions are key – get involved

‘Keep plants healthy, protect life’ is the campaign message: we all have a key role to play! Visit the #PlantHealth4Life website (https://campaigns.efsa.europa.eu/PlantHealth4Life) and discover some basic tips on how we can safeguard plant health i.e.:

  • Are you travelling outside the EU? If during an unforgettable travelling adventure, you fall in love with an exotic plant, take a picture, don’t take the seeds or the plant at home. Otherwise, you may unintentionally help the introduction and spread of new pests by carrying them in your luggage.
  • Are you buying plant via internet? Pests and diseases can also reach an area with the plants we buy, if they have not been properly checked and certified. When you buy plants online from outside the EU, make sure they come with a phytosanitary certificate.
  • Raise awareness amongst the young! Talk about the importance of plants with your children to create a young generation of plant health ambassadors.

On the #PlantHealth4Life website (https://campaigns.efsa.europa.eu/PlantHealth4Life) you can find resources translated in all EU languages – press material, videos, and social media posts to share. Together, we can ensure a healthier future for ourselves, our communities and the environment!

About the campaign

#PlantHealth4Life is a multiannual campaign, designed at the request of the European Commission and based on an in-depth analysis of perceptions and behaviours linked to plant health across the EU. This year, the campaign targets 12 countries: Greece, Cyprus, Belgium, Slovenia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary and Czechia. In addition, 3D video installations will provide an immersive experience in three of the most active hubs for travelling outside the EU: Amsterdam, Madrid, and Milan.

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