National Plant Health Week highlights how plants benefit people

A close up of green wheat growing in a field - Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire, England, UK (27 May 2017)

BBSRC, part of UKRI, is partnering with Defra in May for National Plant Health Week, highlighting how healthy plants benefit both the planet and people.

The National Plant Health Week kicks off on 10 May with a focus on why plant health matters, the threats plants face, and plant health science.

Plants have many benefits, including boosting a person’s wellbeing. From learning how to look after plants properly, to purchasing plants responsibly and exploring plant research, there are plenty of ways to get involved with National Plant Health Week.

The importance of plants for wellbeing

During the COVID-19 period, nature and gardens became more important than ever as many people spent time outside, exploring parks and other outdoor spaces.

Healthy plants are vital for survival and provide many benefits, which include:

  • producing food – 80% of food consumed comes from plants
  • providing oxygen – plants produce 98% of oxygen breathed
  • helping fight climate change – trees are vital carbon sinks with a mature tree absorbing up to 150kg of CO2 per year (about the same as CO2 as electric tumble dryer used around two to three times per week generates per year)
  • reducing pollution – they help remove pollution from the air
  • providing homes for wildlife – for example, oak trees in the UK can have over 2,300 different animals, plants and fungi living on and in them
  • supporting the economy – in the UK, the value that our plants and trees provide to society each year is estimated at £9 billion
  • supporting wellbeing – studies have shown that engaging with nature has a positive effect on a person’s wellbeing.

Raising awareness of plant health

But, do people know how to keep plants healthy? Like people, plants can become sick from pests and diseases.

To raise awareness of the issues surrounding plant health, UKRI published 10 blogs during the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) 2020. The blogs cover subjects such as ‘How plants promote better mental health and wellbeing’ and ‘Reducing climate change impact with plant science.’

Stories were told visually as well. For each month of the year, a plant was selected including the potato plant, Himalayan balsam, and ash trees.

For each plant, UKRI collaborated with a different artist from across the country to produce a new piece of artwork.

Science was brought to life with the publication of impact stories across the year.

Get involved with National Plant Health Week

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will be sharing with you how you can help keep plants healthy, and practice good biosecurity. Take a look at the International Year of Plant Health campaign website for more information.

To get involved with National Plant Health Week this May, use the hashtags #PlantHealthWeek and #IYPH.

Top image: Credit: DannyRM via Getty

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