Observatree 2017: A project conference….and beyond, Peter Crow, Observatree Project Manager

On 14 September at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, Observatree held its 2017 project conference. This was designed to celebrate our achievements and share what we have learned over the past four years.  An international audience was invited to talk about the project and the wider role that Citizen Science can play in tree health early warning systems within Europe.

Several of the Observatree team gave presentations on:

  • project aims
  • survey results
  • pest and disease training
  • how we’ve evaluated the project
  • networks we’ve established

One of the project’s volunteers, David Griffith, talked about his survey work, motivation and how he enjoys participating in Observatree.

Presentations were also given by Professor Gerry Saddler, Chief Plant Health Officer for Scotland, and Professor Nicola Spence, Defra’s Chief Plant Health Officer. These outlined the importance, and further potential, of Citizen Science in monitoring tree health within the UK and beyond. This point was emphasised further as we learned about:

  • volunteers recording invasive pests in Slovenia (including tree pests and diseases)
  • how volunteers are helping to monitor forest health in Poland
  • how the spread of diseases, such as plane wilt, in Greece has led to a campaign to raise public awareness of tree pests and diseases together with the importance of biosecurity

Good communications is the key

Observatree is a successful, award-winning project. In addition to establishing our volunteer network, we have done a considerable amount of work to raise awareness of tree pests and diseases to many within the UK.  This includes the creation of numerous free educational resources.

At the conference we had stands and exhibitions displaying a variety of our training and communication materials for people to review and discuss during breaks.

The fact that Observatree has developed such a good reputation over its short four year lifespan is partly down to the high quality of materials produced and our targeted communications.

During the conference we displayed our latest communication materials.  The first, titled ‘Observatree explained: A layperson’s report’, is a brief non-technical summary of the project. This style of report is produced for all LIFE projects. To accompany this we have also produced our own, more detailed, ‘Good Practice Guidelines: An Observatree Perspective’.  The content of this has been based on experiences and lessons learned over the past four years of the project.

All’s well that ends well

So, with only a few days left of the LIFE Observatree project, we thank LIFE for their contribution and their monitoring team for their support and enthusiasm. We would also like to wish LIFE a happy 25th anniversary.

A new beginning…..

But this is not the end of Observatree!  The project will continue for the foreseeable future, funded initially by existing partners. Watch this space as phase two of Observatree develops and we build upon these tested foundations.

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