Experts from the United Kingdom want border inspections for imported building materials and heightened inspections of plants being imported into the territory.
Dr Jill Key of the Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat, and Senior Plant Health Consultant in the UK, Dr Christopher Malumphy said keeping stricter borders will be critical to minimizing new pests and diseases entering the British Virgin Islands.
They made the recommendation after conducting a week-long analysis in the territory.
They worked alongside local border control officers, the Department of Agriculture, the National Parks Trust, and other local stakeholders.
The UK team will be meeting with government on Friday (February 23) to discuss their findings and submit proposals.
“We are here because we know after the hurricanes a lot of things have to be brought in. You have to bring in materials to rebuild your homes and businesses, planting materials for new gardens, more than what would have been brought in before,” Dr Key told BVI News on Thursday.
She said a number of the imported goods are coming from new markets, thus providing an inroad for new pests and diseases invading the territory.
However, if all goods are inspected thoroughly, that risk would be significantly reduced, Dr Key reasoned.
“Building materials coming in are not currently being checked because traditionally they weren’t checked. So we will be suggesting that the whole island should be made aware of the risk and everybody needs to be the eyes and ears.”
She urged persons to report any new pests such as lizards, snakes, and mosquitoes or diseases to the Department of Agriculture.
In the meantime, Dr Malumphy called for businesses and residents to source local plants and building materials where possible.
He said this is a foolproof way to reduce invasive pests and diseases from entering the territory.
Dr Malumphy noted the difficulty in getting everything locally so cautioned importers to bring in smaller plants over larger ones.
The health consultant said the risk of unwittingly importing foreign pests and diseases are significantly minimized with smaller plants.
“We want people to be very careful where they source things from. Bring them in from some reliable sources,” he added.
Happy for the help
Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer Arona Fahie-Forbes also spoke to BVI News and said the UK team’s input is welcomed.
“While I am aware of certain pests, getting proper identification of new pests that have been introduced to the territory would be beneficial to us so that we would know what would be required in order for us to control them,” she reasoned.
Fahie-Fobes said based on the findings, the government will be better informed on the necessary protocols and measures needed for pest/disease importation and control.
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