Issue 10
July 2017

Welcome to the latest issue of Tree Health News.

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News in brief

In depth

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News in brief

Support our ‘Keep it Clean’ campaign

We’ve created some short animations and a video which you can easily share on your social channels to support our ‘keep it clean campaign’ and limit the spread of plant diseases from visits to woodlands, parks and gardens.

Take a look at our website to view and share these resources and to get more information about the campaign.

It’s all coming out of the woodwork now

Our Biosecurity Officer, Katherine Deeks has recently begun a blog about all things tree health called ‘Out of the Woodwork’.

The blog is a space to discuss the interesting and diverse work undertaken by plant health professionals. Subscribe to the blog for regular updates. 

The most recent post, ‘7 Pillars of Biosecurity’, takes an alternative look at the simple steps landowners and managers can take to protect their trees and woodlands from harmful pests and diseases. 

Have your say on the future of forestry in the UK

The Sylva Foundation launched the 2017 British Woodlands Survey on Friday 7 July.  

The team behind this major survey about our woodlands wants to hear from anyone with an interest in shaping the future of forestry in the UK. This is an opportunity for you to shape the fourth in a series of important national surveys, which will contribute to the development of forestry policy and practice in the UK.

More information is available on the Sylva Foundation website or follow @sylvafoundation #BWS2017 to keep up to date.

Update - Oak Processionary Moth (OPM)

The Defra funded OPM spraying programme has now been completed with 343 sites sprayed.

We are now in the process of carrying out visual assessment of where the caterpillars have started nest formation; this survey will carry on into July. Where nests are found then removal will be taking place manually. Pheromone traps are being put in place as part of the control plan. This work is to try to establish a statistical link between male moth captures and a breeding population.

Update - Sweet Chestnut Blight

Following an outbreak of Sweet chestnut blight in Devon, UK plant health authorities – Defra, supported by Forestry Commission England and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) – have imposed prohibition on the movement of sweet chestnut material including plants, logs, branches, foliage and firewood out of, or within, six zones. Five of these zones are in Devon and one is in Dorset. All six zones came into being as of Friday 12 May.

After aerial surveillance on 6th June, we are confident that all outbreak sites have been identified correctly and that infected material on all sites has been destroyed with the exception of a single site where felling work is ongoing. Inspections of ‘Community woodland’ trees are still ongoing with nothing seen so far. We will continue to survey for this disease throughout the year.

The UK Government’s Chief Plant Health Officer confirmed on 7 July that Sweet Chestnut Blight in has been found in south east London. Action is being taken to identify and control the disease in line with the Government’s plant disease contingency plans. The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Forestry Commission are carrying out extensive surveillance of sweet chestnut trees in the area, working closely with local stakeholders. Further action will be taken on the basis of surveillance information and the best available scientific evidence.

In depth

Phytophthora ramorum

As part of our ongoing work to tackle P Ramorum we are in the process of conducting this year’s surveillance programme, looking across all susceptible types of tree including sweet chestnut. So far this year, aerial surveys in England have been undertaken in the South West, West Midlands (including the Welsh Marches), North West (including The Lake District), North East (extending to the Scottish border) and the East Midlands.  There have been some delays this year due to ongoing Sweet Chestnut Blight investigations but the programme is on schedule for the first part of the season.

Based on the surveys that have been undertaken so far, we are pleased to report that no significant spread of symptoms have been observed in the vicinity of previously confirmed infection. No significant areas of new symptoms have been observed either, with only low to very low level symptoms having been observed in small groups of trees, individual crowns and branches in the general vicinity of previously confirmed larch and rhododendron.

In the South West of England, die back in sweet chestnut continues to be monitored and investigated. While some cases are being confirmed as P. ramorum, some have also been confirmed as other causes such as squirrel damage. Investigations on some sites (which remain under monitoring) have been inconclusive.  Surveys are ongoing and forthcoming aerial surveys are planned for the South Coast, the South East, East Anglia and the Home Counties.

We will continue to carry out surveillance and investigations, as well as checking compliance under any Statutory Plant Health Notices. All of  this work will help us to build a cumulative picture of the disease in the UK and how we can best target our efforts at controlling it.


Forests for the Future: Planting Resilient Woodlands

In a recent article for the Quarterly Journal of Forestry, John Weir outlines the steps we can take to help our woodland cover survive the twin challenges of climate change and the increased incidence of pest and disease outbreaks.

People say that trees have seen it all. But over the last 100 years, the world has changed radically and over a relatively short period of time compared to the lifespan of a tree. Since the 1970’s, outbreaks of introduced plant pests and diseases which can damage or kill healthy trees in the UK have steadily increased. International trade has presented more opportunity for pests and pathogens to be transported quickly across the world from one ecosystem to another. Climate change can exacerbate this problem, because a warmer climate can make it easier for new pests and diseases to get established, and for existing ones to become a bigger problem, for example by breeding more frequently.

In his article, John discusses how we can mitigate these challenges by utilising current scientific knowledge and by proactively managing our woodlands. The article discusses adaptive strategies we can adopt to leave a legacy of resilient forests for future generations, for example, planting a wider range of tree species, using seed from a wider range of origins and provenances.

The article is made available thanks to RFS Quarterly Journal of Forestry where it first appeared. The RFS has lots more information on resilience available on its website.

John Weir, FICFor, is Forestry Commission England’s Adviser for Woodland Resilience, and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Foresters: More information on our work in this area can be found here:

Bronze medal for APHA at RHS Chelsea Show

APHA win a bronze medal at this year's Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Show

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) won a bronze medal at this year’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea show, for their exhibit ‘STEM Surrounds Us’, which showcases how investment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) is being used to protect our plants and trees against pests and diseases.

The exhibit, which won a bronze medal in the RHS Discovery category, was praised for its use of technology to communicate how APHA's Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI), Scottish Government,  Forestry Commission and Forestry Commission Scotland use elements of STEM such as in field diagnostics and drones in their work.

Surrounded by four video screens, highlighting each of the key themes of STEM, the exhibit features a three metre tall willow woven tree in the centre. Individual stems represent the themes and how they work together. Entwined in its branches are models of Asian longhorn beetles, which represent the invasive pests faced by our plants and trees, and the tree is surrounded by bluebells, ferns and foxgloves representing our native countryside.

The exhibit showed how everyone can help protect our environment by giving biosecurity advice, such as buying plants from reputable nurseries and suppliers, cleaning footwear and bike and buggy tyres between visits to the countryside, and checking plants for signs of pests or disease before buying them.

It also highlighted the citizen science activities that the public can take part in, like completing an OPAL tree health survey, reporting suspect pest findings via Tree Alert, and finding out about pests and diseases at Observatree. The show visitors were keen to find out what they could do to protect plant and tree heath and over 4000 people took away information to help them get involved in biosecurity.

For a wealth of tree health resources, visit
the Forestry Commission’s dedicated web pages.

If you have any questions please email us.

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