Citizen science and new technology are being combined in the fight against tree disease as part of Observatree, a new project aimed at helping protect the UK’s trees, woods and forests from harmful pests and diseases – existing or new.
Over the past 12 months, more than 200 volunteers across the UK have been trained as part of the collaboration between Forest Research, the Forestry Commission, Defra and Natural Resources Wales, FERA, APHA, the National Trust and the Woodland Trust, funded by the EU’s Life programme.
The volunteers will, amongst other tasks, verify cases of tree disease recorded via the Forestry Commission’s Tree Alert, an online reporting tool, which allows anyone to report trees showing signs of ill-health.
Reporting through Tree Alert is the fastest way to get tree health concerns to scientists. Tree health officers and forestry professionals are especially being encouraged to use Tree Alert to report possible sightings of pests and diseases at an early stage.