Healthy plants are essential to people and animals, the environment and the economy.
May 12, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Healthy plants are essential to people and animals, the environment and the economy. Canada is proud to join the United Nations and countries around the world in recognizing today as the first International Day of Plant Health.
This day follows the efforts devoted to the International Year of Plant Health in 2020 in raising awareness on a global scale about the value of our precious plant resources and the need to protect them with increasing vigilance.
Plant pests are a main cause of loss in biodiversity and crop productivity, and invasive species continue to pose a threat to Canadian ecosystems. Insects, plants, snails and slugs that threaten plant health can harm the environment when they spread to new parts of the country or abroad, whether on their own or via cargo, human activity, transportation, extreme weather or other means.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is on high alert for pests like the spotted lanternfly, which is particularly a threat in eastern Canada along the border with the United States. If introduced to Canada, this striking and colourful invasive insect could cause serious damage to grape, fruit tree and forestry industries. The ongoing infestation in neighbouring Pennsylvania, for example, is an active threat to our Niagara region’s famous wine industry.
Actions we take can lead to destroyed ecosystems and immense damage to agriculture, which is why everyone has a role to play. One example is to avoid moving firewood. This simple action can help prevent the spread of emerald ash borer, spongy moth, brown spruce longhorn beetle, Dutch elm disease and other pests to new parts of the country. If you heat your home or cottage with wood or you love to go camping, buy and burn only locally grown or heat-treated firewood. That way, invasive species hiding in or under the bark can’t hitch a ride. Another way to help is by planting native or local plants instead of invasive or exotic ones.
Canadians can help by reporting to the CFIA suspected sightings of invasive species new to their area.
Most new findings of invasive pests have been reported by the public, so it’s important to know what grows and lives locally.
We can protect plant health for generations to come if we each take action to minimize risks.
In January 2022, the Council of Canadian Academies released Cultivating Diversity, a report commissioned by the CFIA to identify the current and emerging risks to plant health in Canada.
As Canada’s National Plant Protection Organization, the CFIA will continue its work with partners domestically and internationally to raise awareness and protect global plant resources.
“The International Day of Plant Health is an opportunity to raise awareness about the important need to protect plant health and safeguard our crops, ecosystems, forests and natural habitats. Everyone has a favourite park that they love to frequent. Keep an eye out and report invasive insects and other plant pests to the CFIA—whether at home, your favourite park or campsite, the farm, an industrial area or elsewhere.”
– David Bailey, Chief Plant Health Officer for Canada and Executive Director, Plant Health and Biosecurity, CFIA
“Plants define our planet and play a crucial role in all our lives, but I don’t think many people are aware of the extent to which they support us and other life on Earth. They supply oxygen we breathe, make up the food we eat, help to generate soil, filter water, and are extensively used for medicines. Unless threats to plant health are recognized and effectively managed, we face risks that have the potential to be incredibly disruptive of ecosystems and put human and animal health, biodiversity, and food production in jeopardy.”
– Deborah Buszard, Chair of the Expert Panel on Plant Health, Council of Canadian Academies
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food