In late November over twenty tree specialists from Wales, mainly foresters and arborists, gathered at the Parc Golf Club near Newport in Gwent for a tree health workshop. The premise of the day was that anyone, but particularly those working in the tree and forestry sectors, can help to prevent the spread of pests and diseases and help with the monitoring of tree health by knowing the symptoms of pests and diseases, looking out for them and reporting them promptly via Tree Alert.
During the event, jointly organised by the Institute of Chartered Foresters and Forest Research/Observatree and funded through Focus on Forestry First , Suzy Sancisi-Frey (from Forest Research/Observatree) provided participants with the latest information on tree pests and diseases either currently threatening or which pose a future threat to trees in Wales and the rest of the UK.
The pests and diseases highlighted included ash dieback which has become a major concern in Wales and the oak processionary moth which was intercepted in Wales for the first time this summer. Various threats to spruce trees such as Ips typographus, the spruce aphid and Neonectria disease were also discussed. An update and information on the larch pathogen Phytophthora ramorum which has had a major impact on forestry in Wales was also provided, along with the signs and symptoms of Xylella fastidiosa and the emerald ash borer, two potential threats on the horizon.
As part of the workshop, Mick Biddle from Forestry Commission emphasised the importance of biosecurity, highlighting the practical measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of the introduction and spread of tree pests and diseases. These include making sure all clothing, footwear, equipment, machinery and vehicles are free from soil and organic material before entering and leaving woodland/greenspace sites and keeping records of all tree purchases to help with tracing exercises in the event of an interception.
A clinic session in the afternoon gave participants the opportunity to ask questions and discuss tree health issues with a panel of experts comprising Tom Jenkins FICFor from Forest Research, Sam Milner of Natural Resources Wales and Mark Hilleard from Welsh Government.
Observatree resources including pest and disease information leaflets and calendars, as well as biosecurity items were available for attendees to take away and a display of replica and real-life examples of pests and diseases and the damage they cause to trees allowed the delegates to see pests and diseases up close and for real. Also included were a variety of exhibits demonstrating various pathways that enable pests and diseases to enter and move around the UK.
Attendees explained that they found it particularly useful to hear from tree health experts based in different organisations and to access the excellent training resources of Observatree. A few were so inspired by the day that they are considering becoming volunteers to the project to bolster the team of Observatree citizen scientists who undertake survey work and help to verify tree health reports across Wales, England and Scotland.
If you would like to learn more about tree pests and diseases, and you live and/or work in Wales, you may be interested in attending a similar tree pest and disease workshop that will run on 14th January in Llangollen.