We are so lucky to have a group of 200 volunteers who survey for us on a regular basis. Volunteers provide us with data on the distribution of invasive tree pests and diseases and keep an eye out for any new introductions! Our volunteers submit surveys from their local areas, reporting back on pest and disease findings, but also letting us know about any healthy trees they find. It’s just as important for us to know where pests and diseases are not. In addition, our Lead Volunteers are experienced volunteers who help others and are amazing advocates for the project.

Over the first 8 years of the project, our volunteers have submitted over 13,000 reports and over 25,000 hours of survey time! This shows the impact of citizen science. These data are from across the UK cover a wide variety of tree species and habitats. Thank you to everyone who has ever contributed to this impressive and important database!


We’ve had some key achievements throughout the project. In 2015 volunteer Amanda found the UK’s second record of Oriental chestnut gall wasp. The most surprising aspect was that Amanda found it in St Alban’s, some distance from the original finding in Kent. This was an important finding for management of this new pest, as it was no longer an isolated incident.

In 2017 volunteer David embarked on a mission to record the spread of ash dieback in Wales. Over the next couple of years, David added 132 new grid squares to the official map. David won a Woodland Trust volunteering award for his work. Inspired by David’s work, another David joined in and has submitted 52 new grid squares so far in Scotland and is still going. Their efforts have made a significant contribution to our knowledge of the ash dieback situation in Wales and Scotland.

Each year our volunteers embark on a number of different projects alongside their usual surveying, including the deployment of 250 traps to detect if oak or plane lace bug has arrived and to survey for oak processionary moth. Volunteers in the Southeast and London help with surveying Woodland Trust sites for oak processionary moth each year. Last year Stephen completed a total of 10 sites in one summer!

Along the way Observatree has picked up a few awards which we are very proud of. This includes a Defra Team Award in the Data Pioneer category, a Horticulture Week Custodian Award and Best Stand at the Arboricultural Associations 50th conference.


The Observatree partners are so proud of everything the project achieves, in particular we are very grateful for our brilliant volunteers. In this blog, it is only possible to name one or two individuals, but there are many others who contribute so much to the success of the project. For myself, our volunteers provide me with motivation daily, so thank you!


If you’re interested in volunteering for Observatree, recruitment opens again in January 2023. Email observatree@woodlandtrust.org.uk to be added to the waiting list.