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10.30 – 13.00, Tuesday 12th July 2022

(Hybrid meeting: National Trust Attingham Park, near Shrewsbury and MS Teams)

Meeting chair: David Slawson (DS), Imperial College London

Local Organiser: Andy Gordon (AG) Observatree Volunteer, West Midlands

Microsoft Teams Organiser: Lucy Turner (LT), Forest Research, Alice Holt

Decisions and actions

THCSN Business

Actions/matters arising from February 2022 meeting

  • All were either discharged or were included on the agenda.


  • Tom Jenkins (Forest Research Wales) summarised the latest state of play with the webpages
  • Currently, there are only 13 “biogs” of people involved with the THCSN and more are needed to communicate the work of the Network to others.

Action 1 (A1): More members were encouraged to submit their biogs (short description of role and work plus a photograph) to Lucy Turner.

  • Andy Moffat suggested that publicity of current citizen science projects would increase the value of the website to external users. Tom Jenkins explained that a placeholder exists for such information – “Other tree health citizen science projects and initiatives in the UK”) – but it has not yet been populated. 

Action 2 (A2): DS and TJ to prepare a and circulate to members a template for project summaries (name, project lead, short description, end date, URL link etc.).

Action 3 (A3):  Members to prepare project summaries and submit them to Lucy Turner for inclusion on the webpages.

DS added that when it is published in September, the “Tree Health Citizen Science Learning Pathway” will also help people to engage with relevant projects and activities.

Future meetings

  • Kate Lewthwaite expressed the view that the poor in person attendance of this meeting was consequence of several factors, including a recent spate of travel as work returns to normal, travel disruption from rail strikes and the hot weather.  There was strong support to continue with the policy for one meeting a year to be held face-to-face with a remote access option for those unable to travel.

Decision 1 (D1) The next meeting will be held via MS Teams on Wednesday 8 February 2023.

Decision 2 (D2) The following meeting (July 2023) will be held at Forest Research’s Northern Research Station, near Edinburgh – date to be confirmed.

Action 4 (A4) DS to agree and communicate dates and venues to Members when confirmed.

Priority actions update

Enhance the tree health surveillance network (Peter Crow)

  • Associate agreements are in place with: National Trust Scotland, Nature Scot (recently renewed), Association of Tree Officers, English Heritage, The Yorkshire Arboretum, and the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh; and are close to agreement with: The Tree Council, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the Royal Horticultural Society.
  • Active discussions are also in progress with the Institute of Chartered Foresters (PC) and Forestry and Woodlands Advisory Committees (Charles Lane).  CONFOR was also suggested as appropriate associate.

Action 5 (A5) PC and DS to continue discussions with interested organisation

Tree health citizen science ‘learning pathway’ (DS)

  • DS presented the final version of the learning pathway, which had been developed with helpful feedback from the THCSN
  • The learning pathway will be an element of the revised GB Plant Biosecurity Strategy which will now be published in early September 2022 (see item below).
  • Access to the learning pathway will be via the THCSN webpage, which should increase the site utility to external users.

Action 6 (A6) DS with technical help from TJ to develop the webpage for the “learning pathway”.

Update from partners and projects

Defra and policy developments (Courtney Walker)

  • “A Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain 2022”, which was originally due to be published at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, will now be published in early September 2022.  Its vision is: “To protect Great Britain’s plants through a strong partnership of Government, industry and the public, working together to reduce and manage risks posed by plant pests and pathogens, and facilitate safe trade” and Citizen Science features in Key outcome 2 “A society that values healthy plants – Raising awareness of the importance of healthy plants and trees and encouraging the adoption of responsible behaviours across society”.
  • “Public Engagement in Plant Health Accord” was launched in May 2022 and already has 31 signatories, including: Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA),  Forestry Commission,  Forest Research, The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Horticultural Trade Association (HTA),  Scottish Govt.,  Welsh Govt.,  Royal Forestry Society, British Society for Plant Pathology, Fera Science Ltd,  Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Bacterial Plant Diseases Programme, The British Society for Plant Pathology, Grown in Britain, Action Oak, National Trust, Arboricultural Association, The Linnean Society, Observatree,  British Association of Landscape Industries, Young People in Horticulture Association (YPHA),  The Tree Council, The Plant Health Alliance (Plant Healthy), Confor, Historic Houses, Scottish Forestry,  National Farmers Union, Royal Society of Biology (RSB), Plant Health Centre, Scotland, Woodland Trust
  • National Plant Health Week will be held again in May 2023.

Sentinel Treescapes Project (Michael Pocock)

A NERC-funded project with partners CEH, Fera, Newcastle University, which uses remote electronic sensors – “Tree talkers” – attached to trees measure various parameters including sap flow.  A volunteer tree warden network makes general assessments of tree health to compare with data from tree-talkers.  Part of the project involves a questionnaire to discover the motivations and expectations of volunteers:

Survey – Volunteer Tree Health Monitoring

Do you care about the trees in our gardens, parks, hedges and woods? Are you interested in monitoring the health of our trees? Have your say and help us understand opportunities for developing a volunteer tree health monitoring network, by taking part in our 10-minute survey

Action 7 (A7) Everyone is invited to complete the questionnaire and/or circulate to contacts.

Observatree (Peter Crow, Forest Research)

  • A cadre of over 100 new volunteers has been recruited from over 240 applicants and has been trained through a mixture of webinars and face-to-face training
  • TreeAlert data are now stored in a “Cloud” environment making them easier to share – discussions are taking place about eventually sharing data on host trees, pests and pathogens.  TreeAlert also contains photographs and Peter is interested in what other groups do to check the appropriateness of images submitted to other CS platforms where they are made available again.
  • New priority pests:
    • Beech Leaf Disease (2022) – a new disease of Fagus spp. in North America associated with a new nematode subspecies Litylenchus crenatae (L. crenatae mccannii))
    • Agrilus fleischeri (to be added) – a beetle pest of poplar and willow, native to East Asia. Likely to be damaging if introduced to the UK. The risk of entry via wood packaging material and other means has been mitigated against in Great Britain
  • Collaborations:
    • A trial is underway in SE England to train 30 Tree Council wardens to become local tree health champions and to run local “tree health walks” (Carolyn Riddell added that the Centre for Forest Protection in Scotland has engaged local people to “adopt” a tree in their local park)
    • A study is in progress with Warwick University and Woodland Heritage to improve understanding of confidence of different of citizens pest and disease identification skills
    • The Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment includes a strategy for Citizen Science
  • Recent developments include:
    • A new website hosted by Woodland Trust
    • 104 new volunteers have been recruited and are in the process of being trained (a heartening indication that the public are keen to engage with trees and tree pests and diseases)
    • Beech Leaf Disease will be added to the priority list for observation in 2022
    • A priority will be given to working more closely with the Tree Council and its network of tree wardens

HOMED – Check a Sweet Chestnut ” (Jassy Drakulic, RHS)

  • EU Horizon 2020 funder project in partnership with Coventry University and part of the HOMED Project
  • Uses Treezilla to record tree species, characteristics etc. and TreeAlert to report suspect sightings of oriental chestnut gall wasp – 10 confirmed sightings have been made extending the known distribution list further north and west than previously known
  • Best practice abstracts and toolkits have been prepared to assist future tree Citizen Science projects

Tree health CS work at Coventry University (Liz Trenchard, Coventry University

  • Liz is also a new Observatree volunteer
  • Grants are in place or have been sought for:
    • A PhD is examining ecology and soli health effects e.g. biochar on Chalara ash dieback
    • Support needed to increase production of community tree nurseries
    • Increase of local government tree-planting schemes

Tour d’table

Forest Research have a stand at the Royal Welsh Show, 18-21 July 2022 (TJ)

Technical visit

  • In the afternoon, Andy Gordon (Observatree, Lead Volunteer for the West Midlands) led a guided walk around Attingham Park to demonstrate, amongst other things, symptoms of and research on Acute Oak Decline

28 July 2022

Dr David Slawson,

Coordinator THCSN

APPENDIX 1 Attendees

AndyGordonObservatree volunteerIn person
AndyMoffatA J Moffat & AssociatesMS Teams
CarolynRiddellForest ResearchMS Teams
CourtneyWalkerDefraMS Teams
DavidSlawsonImperial College London/Observatree volunteerIn person
DebbieHardingUKRI BBSRCMS Teams
FrithaWestObservatree, Woodland TrustMS Teams
JaneBarbrookAPHAMS Teams
JaniceAnsineOpen UniversityMS Team
JassyDrakulicRHSMS Teams
KateLewthwaiteWoodland TrustMS Teams
KatharinaDehnen-SchmutzCoventry UniversityMS Teams
LizTrenchardCoventry UniversityMS Teams
LucyTurnerForest ResearchMS Teams
MichaelPocockCEHMS Teams part only
PeterCrowObservatree, Forest ResearchMS Teams
SamanthaGreenCoventry UniversityIn person
TomJenkinsForest Research WalesMS Teams


AlisonDykeStockholm Environment Institute, University of York
JohnGrimshawYorkshire Arboretum
LucyCarson TaylorAPHA
RebeccaGoslingObservatree, Woodland Trust
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