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Bloom Report, Photos and Awareness Raising Survey

Minister Andrew Doyle officially launched the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s (DAFM) “Don’t Risk it!” campaign at Bloom on June bank holiday weekend where a staggering 119,000 people attended the event over 5 days. The “Don’t Risk it!” campaign is a public awareness raising initiative targeting amateur gardeners and tourists about the risks involved in bringing plants, fruit, vegetables wood products and soil back home from abroad. Our objective is to highlight the social, environmental and economic impact of bringing infected plant material or quarantine pests and diseases into Ireland. The Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine carries out physical checks on all regulated and high risk consignments of commercial products from outside the EU, however it is not physically possible for DAFM to check every piece of hand luggage that comes through the airports and ports. Therefore, by educating the public of the risks we will generate awareness and hopefully reduce the number of unchecked plants and plant products stowed away in people’s luggage. Currently a new disease, Xylella fastidiosa, which originated in South America, is threatening Europe - primarily the olive industry and in particular the Puglia region of Italy where the disease first appeared in Europe in 2013. This disease is of major concern to the nursery stock industry in Ireland as it has a host range of over 350 species (full list available on the Departments website). The organisers of Bloom took this issue so seriously they encouraged its participants not to use any of the host species during the event. Legally there are no restrictions on using these host species provided they are accompanied by a valid plant passport. The Department also highlighted many other pests and diseases of concern such as; the Emerald Ash Borer, a damaging pest of the ash tree that can hide in untreated wood packaging material, the Colorado Beetle which can destroy potato crops, and the Citrus Longhorn Beetle which can do untold damage to a wide range of deciduous trees - also hiding in untreated timber products.

The Department also promoted their dedicated webpage for the campaign with information on all the pests and diseases of concern including information on invasive species. There are contact details on the website for the relevant areas should someone want to report an issue they are concerned with to the Department. There is also a Tree Check app that can be used to report findings.

Overall it was a very successful campaign launch that received an unprecedented level of interest from members of the public. Our twitter activity also engaged with an additional 40,000 individuals during the 5 days of the show. We hope to build on the campaign for next year and perhaps come up with more novel ways of getting our “Don’t Risk it!” message out to the public.

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