This August, during Tree Check Month, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and its partners in plant health protection are encouraging Canadians to check their trees and gardens for signs of insects, disease and other organisms that harm plants. The CFIA’s invasive pest cards and pest facts sheets provide more information on what to look for and what to report.
Plant health is essential to both human and animal health, as well as our environment and our economy. The risks of foreign insects, weeds and diseases being introduced into new areas in Canada continue to be a challenge due to the movement of firewood, trade in a diverse range of plant products, and climate change.
In light of the importance of the health of our precious plant resources, Canada is celebrating 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health and has outlined a number of ways that people can get involved, such as looking for and reporting invasive pests, planting native species in their gardens and buying and burning local or heat-treated firewood. People can also help protect Canada’s plants by participating in the Plant Health Hero Challenge. Canada’s Plant Health Hero Challenge is a social media campaign aimed at increasing awareness about the importance of plant health in Canada, by inspiring people to participate in certain plant health activities and report their actions via social media using the hashtag #CDNPlantHero.
This month especially, Canadians are asked to check their local trees, shrubs and plants for insects, invasive plants or signs of disease and to contact the CFIA with suspicious finds.
Early detection helps manage plant pests and public involvement is key. Thanks to a report by a Toronto resident in 2013, the CFIA put mitigation measures in place to contain the Asian long-horned beetle, and in June 2020 announced the successful eradication of the bug in Toronto and Mississauga.
When a pest is found in a new area, the CFIA confirms the pest’s identity and, if it is a significant pest, works with provincial/territorial, municipal and other partners to determine the geographic spread, investigate the source and put in place measures to control and, when appropriate, eradicate the pest.