Plant pests include viruses, bacteria, fungi, viroids, phytoplasma, various insects, ticks and nematodes.
The objective of the plant health legislation is to protect plants used in agriculture, forestry and horticulture (such as cereals, tubers and horticultural crops, bushes and trees) and plants in public and private green areas (such as street trees, plants planted in public or private gardens) while safeguarding biodiversity and the environment by preventing the introduction and spread of pests.
The EU Plant Health Regulation (2016/2031) and the Regulation on official controls (2017/625) became applicable from 14 December 2019. The National Plant Health Act complements EU legislation.
EU legislation classifies plant pests into quarantine pests and other regulated pests. Quarantine pests are difficult to control and cause significant crop losses in agriculture, forestry and horticulture. The aim is to minimise the presence of other regulated pests, in particular in seeds and seedlings used as propagating material, in which they cause a reduction in the quality of the material.
IPPC and EPPO
As a member of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement (WTO/SPS) and the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO), Finland follows these organisations’ recommendations and applies them in national legislation. These agreements aim to prevent the spread of plant pests and harmonise phytosanitary measures to minimise unjustified trade barriers.
Responsibility for plant health
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is responsible for plant health policy and legislation. Plant health issues are controlled by the Finnish Food Authority (Ruokavirasto). Ruokavirasto is working to enhance efforts to combat quarantine pests, and contingency plans have already been made for measures to combat the possible spread of pinewood nematode, fire blight, potato ring and brown rots, in collaboration with various stakeholders.