Why do we need Observatree?
Our trees are under unprecedented threat from new pests and diseases from other parts of the world. They usually arrive here through global trade in live plants, packing materials, or through natural processes such as windblown spores across country boundaries. Climate change is also playing a part, with reduced incidence of cold, wet weather in winter which in the past would have killed emerging larvae that had arrived from warmer climates.
These new tree pests and diseases can have a devastating impact on our trees and woodland, which have no resistance to these new threats or no natural biological controls which would keep them in check in their native environments. Protecting trees from these threats is vital to the future of our woodland.
What can be done?
The Government’s strategy to tackle this issue has three principles:
- keep pests and disease out if we can
- if they get in, eradicate them before they spread and become endemic; and
- if eradication proves impossible, control and manage them
The project is about establishing a tree health early warning system. This will assist the Government in achieving the second principle – if it does get in Observatree will assist in spotting it earlier. The earlier it is spotted, the easier it will be to eradicate as it will have had less opportunity to spread and become established.
Observatree will activate more ‘eyes on the ground’, encouraging everyone to look out for new pests and diseases and report them. Currently there are not enough people keeping an eye out and if they do spot something many are not aware of who to report it to or how.
If you think you have seen something suspicious, find out how to report.