Defra ObservaTREE pilot project

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Forest Research, Fera, the Woodland Trust and the National Trust were commissioned by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to deliver a feasibility study for the development of a UK tree health early warning system, to strengthen the UK’s capacity for delivery. This work forms part of the overall response to recommendations made by the Independent Panel on Forestry in its final report, for government to speed up delivery of the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Action Plan by “developing a modern, user-friendly, expert system to provide quick and intelligent access to data about tree health and plant biosecurity.”

Project objectives

The Defra ObservaTREE pilot project assessed the IT infrastructure, tree health training materials and volunteer networks needed to deliver a tree health early warning system as set out in the LIFE+ ObservaTREE project bid. Specifically:

  • Reviewed partners’ data infrastructures, to identify areas offering value-for-money opportunities to increase IT inter-operability between partners;
  • Held a workshop to assess how mobile ‘apps’ can best be designed to support tree health data collection and verification activities, drawing ‘lessons learned’ from other crowd sourcing initiatives;
  • Scoped the development of an Information Library, for partners to share information relating to pests and diseases, using Ash as a single species pilot;
  • Piloted the development of networks and training to support recruitment of volunteer verifiers.

Funders and partners

Various different logos

Research, Fera, the Woodland Trust and the National Trust were partners in the project, which was funded by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).


Pilot ran from January 2013 until the end of March 2013.

Please note this project continues as ObservaTree


Forest Research

Kate Hutchinson


Dr David Slawson
Sand Hutton
Telephone:01904 462156 / 07774 751495 (Mobile)

Woodland Trust

Kate Lewthwaite
Woodland Trust
Telephone:08452 935575

National Trust

Phil Lakin
National Trust
Telephone:01793 817400

What's of interest

Tree A!ert

EU LIFE funding secured to develop an early warning system for UK pest and disease threats
FC OTREE press release

Related pages

Related documents