Scots urged to get behind tree survey and tree buddy initiative

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21 MAY 2013NEWS RELEASE No: 15948

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Environment & Climate Change Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, is urging people across Scotland to get involved with a UK-wide initiative that aims to build a comprehensive picture of tree health issues.

The survey of the health of Britain’s broadleaved trees is part of the Open Air Laboratory (OPAL) project that aims to involve lay people in ‘citizen science’. The tree health topic is the seventh in the project.

The survey has been designed by Imperial College London in partnership with FERA and Forest Research, the research arm of Forestry Commission Scotland. Forestry Commission Scotland has also funded 3000 survey packs for distribution around the country as part of its commitment to the Year of Natural Scotland.

Mr Wheelhouse said:

“I very much welcome this timely project which gives people of all ages and at any location in Scotland the opportunity to help us in the ongoing effort to protect our trees and forests.

"Trees are a vital and much-loved part of all our lives but, as we all know, they are increasingly under threat from pests and diseases such as Chalara dieback of Ash and Dothistroma needle blight. Even with the best will in the world scientists, foresters and woodland managers can’t check every single tree or woodland quickly enough to give us a comprehensive picture of the state of health of our trees.

“With this initiative communities around the UK will be exploring their local area to find and survey local trees. It only takes about half an hour to complete but the data gathered can potentially be of great assistance to the scientists and researchers who are engaging with these issues to manage tree health more effectively.

“At the moment Scotland is under represented in the survey results so I would urge anyone with an interest in trees – or in science – to get a pack and get surveying!”

A survey pack and information – including reusable guides and tree ID poster - can be downloaded from the OPAL website at 

Then, between now and late September, citizen surveyors only have to find a site with safe access to one or more broadleaved trees - and start surveying! Results can be submitted online. Printed packs and survey response forms are also available.

Anyone with a professional interest in trees and forestry is also being asked to volunteer their expertise by becoming “Tree Buddies” to help members of the public and schools carry out the survey, improve their learning experience and provide more accurate and reliable results.

“Tree buddies” could go out with friends and family to carry out a tree survey, hold OPAL Tree Health Survey events for the public, host group consultation sessions or even set up a recording scheme in your local area.

For more information about how OPAL can support “Tree Buddies”, visit

Notes to Editors
1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment & Forestry Directorate

2. Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) is a research and education programme, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, delivered through a partnership of 15 organisations from across England and led by Imperial College London. As part of the OPAL Programme, six national survey topics (seven including tree health) give the general public the tools and support they need to explore and record nature in their local area. Details of the surveys can be found at

3.  For news, events and recreation information log on to For Twitter:

4. Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde.