Tree Alert, the Forestry Commission’s on-line tool for reporting suspected tree pests and diseases of concern, has had an upgrade.
Dr John Morgan, Head of the Commission’s Plant Health Service, explained,
“Tree Alert has been a valuable tool for forestry and other tree professionals and people with knowledge of trees and woods to help us monitor key pests and diseases of trees.
“It has enabled many people who care about Britain’s trees and woodlands, and want to help us tackle pests and diseases, to provide valuable intelligence about the location of several of concern to us. These include Chalara, acute oak decline, Ramorum disease of larch, and oak processionary moth.
“It has been used to particularly good effect by the ‘Observatree’ group of trained volunteer surveyors around the country. In a very practical application of ‘citizen science’, these volunteers have used it to report suspected problems to us. This has included, notably, alerting us to an outbreak of Oriental chestnut gall wasp in sweet chestnut trees in St Albans, Hertfordshire, last summer. Without Observatree, that outbreak might not have been detected until it was a much bigger problem.
“In the process, users have contacted us about some technical aspects of Tree Alert, and we have addressed their feedback in our recent upgrade.
“We hope, therefore, that this will lead to even better information coming through, and more people using Tree Alert, especially people whose working lives bring them close to trees.”
Dr Morgan explained that the original app version of Tree Alert has been discontinued. The benefits are a wider range of pests and diseases which can be reported, and significantly improved reports.
The Tree Alert on-line facility is available on the Forestry Commission website at www.forestry.gov.uk/treealert. Information about individual tree pests and diseases of concern is available at www.forestry.gov.uk/pestsanddiseases
Notes to Editor:
- Tree Alert was originally established in the weeks following the news that Chalara dieback of ash trees had been found in the wild in Britain for the first time in October 2012. It responded to demand from forestry and other tree professionals, and knowledgeable members of the public, to help tackle the disease by reporting suspected cases. It has since been developed to enable reporting of all tree pests and diseases of concern.
- Observatree is a partnership project led by the Forestry Commission’s Forest Research agency in which hundreds of volunteers managed by the Woodland Trust have been trained to recognise and report tree pests and diseases of concern. www.observatree.org.uk .
- An outbreak of oriental chestnut gall wasp in St Albans, Hertfordshire in summer 2015 was found by an Observatree volunteer. The Forestry Commission had asked Observatree volunteers around Britain, as well as its own professional plant health surveyors, to check sweet chestnut trees in their areas for signs of the pest after an outbreak had been discovered in Kent. www.forestry.gov.uk/gallwasp
Media contact: Charlton Clark, 0300 067 5049