Summary of research
Ensuring trees remain healthy and vigorous is vital to the long-term sustainable management of Britain’s woodlands and forests. However, an increasing range of biotic disorders threaten tree health, sometimes due to the introduction of novel pests and pathogens but also because climate change can increase vulnerability. To address this, tree health research is focussed into three key work streams:
- Pest or pathogen-specific research to provide evidence and management solutions for damaging or potentially high risk disorders. This includes single pathogen incited diseases such as Phytophthora (P. ramorum, P. lateralis and P. kernoviae), Dothistroma Needle Blight, and Horse Chestnut Bleeding Canker; the invertebrate pests Pine-tree Lappet Moth, Oak Processionary Moth and Pinewood Nematode; and oak decline (mainly Acute Oak Decline), apparently caused by a combination of biotic agents.
- The advisory and extension service which acts as a first point of contact for reports of tree ill-health, provides training and topical information on tree pests and pathogens, as well as underpinning the tree health surveillance system embedded in the Integrated Forest Monitoring Programme. A further part of this work-stream comprises formal pest risk analysis (PRA), advice provision and knowledge management in relation to national and international plant health regulations.
- Strategic research to predict the likely effects of new pests and pathogens including modelling the impact of climate change on existing pests and pathogens. This will feed into the formulation of management strategies to manage these risks, while taking account of forest expansion, species choice, and changing future threats to tree species likely to be used in adaptive forest management.