Aims

What are we going to do?

Our aim is to protect the UK’s trees, woods and forests from new pests and diseases – either arriving or spreading across the country. The earlier these are spotted, the higher the chances that outbreaks can be eliminated or controlled.

The project will:

Focus on high priority pests and diseases

The project will focus on a list of pests and diseases which are of the highest concern.

Encourage increased surveillance and reporting

We encourage tree health professionals and people actively involved with trees to act as citizen scientists and report potential sightings of anything worrying.  More eyes on the ground means a greater chance of earlier detection. A wide range of resources and training materials are available to help improve knowledge of our priority pests and diseases.

Concerns should be submitted to Tree Alert in the first instance. Find out more about how to report a new pest or disease using Tree Alert.

Undertake tree health early warning surveys

A UK network of over 200 specialist volunteers undertake a range of surveys to assist with spotting new tree pests and diseases. They also complete surveys to help track the spread of new, established diseases such as Chalara. Volunteers receive annual training to help with identification and surveying techniques.

Identify the most significant reports

The project works with our specialist volunteers to help verify reports of pests and diseases received through Tree Alert. They assist with the processing of submitted reports to check they are complete. Native and common pests and diseases are also filtered out. Volunteers may also carry out site visits to collect samples and additional survey information. By doing all of this, it means that scientists and tree health officers can concentrate their time on the most significant reports submitted.

Share best practice

Observatree will research what tree health early warning systems are used in other European countries, learn from their experience and share what we are doing in the UK.  This will lead to the production of best practice protocols for establishing tree health early warning systems in Europe.

We will also be working with other citizen science projects, particularly those such as OPAL, Treezilla and AshTag on tree health, to ensure our work is complementary.

Download the official project leaflet

Download a project overview poster