Working with others for the good of tree health.

The benefits of trees and woodlands are never far from the news, and there are many initiatives to increase their number. At a time when the impacts of Chalara dieback of ash are increasingly evident, it is important that we take action to help protect our trees against invasive pests or diseases. And many groups and organisations are already taking a proactive role.

One of the strengths of Observatree is the Partnership. We can draw upon the expertise and skills of different organisations in a collaborative effort to help protect our trees, woods and forests from a range of invasive pests and diseases. Tree health is a common concern that unites us; and Observatree can make a positive contribution to the cause. The Observatree partners have committed to funding a further five years of the project. And we are investing in a new website, due to go live in the autumn. As we develop Observatree over the next five years, we will continue to work with others to highlight the importance of good biosecurity and the need to look for and report tree pests or diseases.

The continuation of Observatree is a testament to the role that citizen scientists can play and this is also seen in other new tree health citizen science projects such as ‘check a sweet chestnut’. Observatree is part of a Tree Health Citizen Science Network, an informal group of related projects and organisations interested in raising awareness of tree health more widely and encouraging surveillance and reporting.

We are often approached by other organisations wishing to support our work and identify mechanisms to work with us. With some, we have established an Association agreement that provides a framework for collaboration. Two of our more recent Associations provide examples of different mechanisms for working together:

The National Trust for Scotland are allowing Observatree volunteers access to their properties. Ann Steele, Head of Heritage Gardening Policy said;

“We look after many of Scotland’s most valued and precious gardens and wider landscapes, and their trees, on behalf of everyone. Having trained Observatree volunteers on the lookout for priority pests and diseases can only help us to spot any problems early and support essential decision-making, to ensure these special places are protected now and for future generations”.

We are also working with the Association of Tree Officers who are helping us to spread information on tree health and share our training resources through their membership. Al Smith FICFor and Director of the ATO said”

“Local Authority Tree Officers across the country, who manage the valuable and significant tree resource on public land in the UK, can benefit from this collaboration with Observatree. We can increase the number of people contributing towards the surveillance and reporting of tree pests and diseases using the resources and training materials that Observatree provides. These resources help to keep both tree professionals and members of the public up-to-date with tree health and biosecurity”. Biosecurity Information (

We are very pleased to be working with these groups and our other Associates. They provide good examples of how we can continue to expand the tree health networks and take a collective approach to helping protect our existing trees woods and forests, and those due to be planted as we expand the UK’s tree cover.