What is the problem with wildlife disease?

Diseases are not normally classified as being native or non-native. Instead the focus is on newly-arrived diseases - by any pathway - that have the potential to do damage to biodiversity[jb1] . Examples include the plant-damaging water mould Phytophthora and highly-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). 


UK expertise has been influential in the drafting of much of the text and guidance about HPAI and other wildlife disease issues adopted by recent multi-lateral environmental agreements (MEAs). We continue to have strong influence on this issue, especially through informal co-ordination between multiple international organisations, MEAs and the EU. Several UK procedures and approaches to HPAI have now been taken up as good practice by the international community.


The Plant Health Directive is key to the UK’s efforts to prevent plant pathogens coming into the country. The Annexes of the Directive are reviewed regularly to identify new threats. In addition emergency legislation can also be used, either in the UK or in Europe, to address emerging problems.