(Cover Photo: The North American Plant Protection Organization arranged for the green illumination of Niagara Falls to celebrate the International Year of Plant Health. USDA photo by Margaret Pelczynski.)
By Greg Rosenthal
The United States, Canada, and Mexico recently dazzled North Americans with a green light celebration of the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). In April, the countries partnered to illuminate Niagara Falls in green. At the same time, they lit up iconic national buildings and monuments. These illuminations brought attention to the importance of plants to life on Earth and the need to protect plant health.
All three countries collaborate through the North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO) to safeguard plant health in their region. NAPPO is one of 10 regional plant protection organizations recognized by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), which the United Nations’ (U.N.) Food and Agriculture Organization oversees.
The following North American landmarks glowed in green for IYPH, showing unity for plant protection across the continent:
“These illuminations in Canada, Mexico, and the United States demonstrate a powerful solidarity in plant protection that stretches across North America,” said Dr. Osama El-Lissy, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Protection and Quarantine program. “This event raised public awareness about the need to protect our vulnerable plant resources against damaging invasive pests. These pests can devastate crops, throw ecosystems out of balance, and jeopardize the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers. This event was all the more meaningful because it took place in April, which is Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month in the United States.”
The U.N. declared 2020 IYPH and extended the celebration through July 1, 2021. The declaration sent a powerful message to the world: Plants are life. They make the oxygen we breathe and produce 80 percent of the food we eat. Plants clothe and shelter us and sustain our livestock and poultry. They also provide habitat for wildlife, form the base of nature’s food chains, and help biodiversity flourish. IYPH is a worldwide campaign to promote the value of our vital plant resources and highlight the need to safeguard them against destructive, invasive pests.
In the United States alone, invasive insects and plant diseases—such as the Asian longhorned beetle, spotted lanternfly, and gypsy moth—cost an estimated $40 billion each year in damages to trees, plants, crops, and related management efforts. USDA urges the public to take simple, specific actions to prevent the spread of invasive, hungry pests and protect the plant resources we depend on in the United States. For more information, visit HungryPests.com, a great resource to learn about invasive plant pests and diseases to look for in each State and details on how to report them to local plant protection authorities.
The United Nations declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health(IYPH) and then extended the celebration through July1, 2021. This worldwide campaign is promoting the value of our precious plant resources and the need to safeguard them against invasive pests. To celebrate IYPH, each month Plant Protection Today is highlighting how PPQ safeguards America’s agricultural and natural resources against invasive pests, and facilitates the safe trade of agricultural products. Read our article on IYPH to learn more—and how you can join this once-in-a-lifetime event!