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10.30 – 13.00, Thursday 9th February 2023 (via Microsoft Teams)

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

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

Decisions and actions

THCSN Business

Actions/matters arising from July 2022 meeting

  • All were either discharged or were included on the agenda except Actions 1 and 2 concerning summaries of research projects for the website.  These summaries are intended to increase the value of the website to external users.  DS showed a draft text for the OPAL Tree Health Survey.  The format was accepted, but a reduction in the word count was advised.

Action (A1) DS to revise and circulate to members the revised template.

Action (A2) All members to submit to LT texts for their projects.

Action (A3) LT to load texts on to the website, including a covering summary list of projects.


  • Tom Jenkins (Forest Research Wales) (Forest Research Wales) summarised development of the Network’s web pages hosted by Forest Research; he indicated that metrics on usage will be recorded in the future; and invited feedback.


  • Michael Pocock (CEH) reported that the group now has 65 subscribers and that jiscmail is the main channel for communications within the network.

Future meetings

  • The next meeting will be a hybrid face-to-face/MS Teams meeting on Tuesday 4 July 2023 at Forest Research Alice Holt, Farnham, Surrey.

Action (A4) LT to send an MS Calendar invitation to all members and potential attendees; DS to post a ‘save the date’ message on jiscmail.

  • Potential venues for future meetings include Yorkshire Arboretum (kindly offered by Ginnette Alexander), RHS Bridgewater Garden near Manchester and Forest Research, Northern Research Station, Roslin near Edinburgh.

Priority actions update

Enhance the tree health surveillance network (DS)

  • Enhancement of the tree health surveillance network has largely been achieved by various organisations becoming “associate members” of Observatree
  • Current associate members include National Trust Scotland, Nature Scot, Association of Tree Officers, English Heritage, The Yorkshire Arboretum, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (and its three other gardens Benmore, Dawyck and Logan) and Royal Botanic Garden Kew (and Wakehurst Place).
  • Active discussions are also in progress with The Tree Council, the Royal Horticultural Society and most recently with PlantNetwork ( – a charity and membership organisation that provides training and network support to gardens and gardeners throughout Britain and Ireland with 70 member institutions, 1,500 individual members covering over 500 gardens and parks; integral to this collaboration are Botanic Garden Conservation International with their knowledge of a similar system in the USA –  American Public Gardens Association – Plant Sentinel Network: Detection, Diagnosis, Protection Education.

Action (A5) Peter Crow and DS to continue discussions with interested organisation

Tree health citizen science ‘learning pathway’ (DS)

  • The “Tree health citizen science learning pathway” was revised following feedback from the previous THCSN meeting
  • The learning pathway is referenced in “A Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain 2022”, which was published in January 2023
  • Matilda Scharsach (Woodland Trust Volunteer Coordinator for Scotland) has kindly recorded a voice -over to accompany the learning pathway
  • TJ gave a demonstration of the learning pathway and its voice-over; a few suggested amendments were proposed

Action (A6) DS and TJ to finalise revisions and publish the “learning pathway” on the THCSN webpages.

Tour d’table updates from partners/guests


Defra/Plant Health (Jake Morris)

  • “A Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain 2023-28”:
    • Was finally published in January 2023
    • Citizen Science is included in 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
    • The strategy is supported by a “Public Engagement in Plant Health Accord” which has been signed by 36 supporting organisations
  • “National Plant Health Week”
    • Will be held on 8-14 May 2023
    • Its focus is on encouraging “environmental stewardship”
    • Will include a Citizen Science-themed day

Action (A7) Jake Morris to update THCSN on developments for the Citizen Science-themed day.

Defra/Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment (NCEA) (Richard Ferris)

RF described the Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment’s (NCEA) programme of work, including its vision for Natural Environment Citizen Science.

  • The NCEA includes a vision that Citizen Science-based survey and data are recognised, valued and fully utilised in our collective approach to assess the extent and condition of natural capital and ecosystems
  • It is delivered via 6 Work Packages: Strategic partnerships, National catalogue, Regional Hubs, Urban Environment, Freshwater Environment and Farmland Environment
  • Strategy:
    • Why Natural Environment Citizen Science (NECS) matters and the opportunities for greater use and investment as part of our science & evidence programme
    • There are well documented challenges as well as opportunities
    • Support and harness leadership for NECS collaboration
    • Clarify the NECS activity and experience landscape​
    • Embed best practice NECS principles & ensure confident data use​
    • Understand the costs-benefits / case for investment
  • Partnerships: Map existing partnerships and their values, identify opportunities to build on these, and ensure that the environmental citizen science sector is strategically aligned to support the recovery of nature:
    • Current stakeholder mapping
    • Gap analysis – new, additional stakeholders
    • Development of new partnership narrative – ‘Our Message’
    • Establish a new Core National Strategic Partnership Group
  • Resources:
    • Consistency of Citizen Science practice, achieved through setting and use of standards, rigour, and ways of working
    • Develop and deploy an open set of common resources that the wider community is happy to use, and collaborate on their further development, expansion and standardisation
    • Best practice guidance made available via an online portal ‘One-Stop Shop’
  • Natural Environment Citizen Science (NECS) Hubs
    • Investing public resource ‘more locally’ to grow capacity to collaborate, coordinate, and enable NECS
    • A conduit between national and local flavours of policy, priority, innovation, and representation
    • Investing in people, skills, time, and participation

Many similarities were noted between tree health citizen science and natural environment citizen science, not just on strategy, partnerships, resources and hubs but also on the value of a learning pathway and the importance of making species data open and accessible e.g. on the NBN Trust and its Atlases.

Action (A8) DS to invite RF to future meetings and to share information on the learning pathway, hubs and data.


Observatree (Matt Parratt, Forest Research)

MP gave a brief update on the main developments on the Observatree project. Headlines included:

  • The current network includes 166 volunteers
  • 4,800 reports last year – a record for Observatree: details of the main pests and diseases were presented
  • A pilot collaboration project is underway with the Tree Council
  • A very active programme of training and support is provided to volunteers including training resources, a series of webinars, summer training days, mentoring days, monthly newsletter, host of the month and a quiz
  • A major upgrade to the TreeAlert reporting system is in development and will be launched in March 2023

Action (A9) Lucy Carson-Taylor (APHA) sought slides from Matt’s presentation for use by Prof Nicola Spence (Chief Plant Health Officer) in forthcoming international meetings.

Wales Sentinel Network (Dan Wood, Welsh Government)

  • rly warning network of 22 parks and gardens in each local authority region across Wales
  • Includes sites of the National Botanic Garden of Wales, National Trust and local councils
  • Welsh Government lead on management and public engagement (including information boards, posters, stands at shows, “Be Plant Wise” biosecurity information)
  • Twice yearly inspections for priority pests and diseases are conducted on each site by staff of the Animal & Plant Health Agency; to date, volunteers are not involved in the surveillance
    • There is also a Welsh Plant Health Sentinel Network organised by Tom Jenkins, Racheal Lee and Leone Olivieri; four sites are involved and it includes various insect/spore trapping at each site

Treemap – global tree database platform (Richard Maxwell, Tremap)

Thought: there are 6.6 billion smartphone users on the planet. If even just 1% of those can be given the necessary tools, there would be 66 million people equipped to do tree-care citizen science tasksForest Research have a stand at the Royal Welsh Show, 18-21 July 2022 (TJ)

An app

  • It’s friendly, fun and absolutely simple (learnable in 15 seconds) and a platform that allows people to
    • map trees
    • digitally label trees
    • add trees to the Tremap global database
    • access global tree data
    • It has functionality to personalise trees, share trees on social media, report on tree health issues to their local council for specific trees (disease, structural damage or risk etc), and to survey, monitor or do tree-care tasks for councils (legion of citizen science Tremappers)
    • Corporates sponsor tree citizen science programmes and attach logos & URLs to trees
    • treTube is a gallery of 2-minute video vignettes portraying tree species in-situ, embedded in-app

A database

  • Global in scope
    • Developed in the UK
    • Used around the world
    • Used in all spheres
  • The repository for Big Data for Trees
  • Non-proprietary, but secure (discrete and discreet data)
  • Open, Collaborative and Connectable-to
    • A “friendly” shareable, standardized open file format
    • Static and dynamic sharing of data
    • The “PDF” of tree datasets.

A web portal

  • Cloud based (viewable in any browser)
  • No software to install
  • Almost no learning curve
  • No need to keep updating
  • View, manage and report on tree sub-datasets within the overall Tremap database

Possible next steps

  • Adopt Individual Tree Data Standard for Tremap internal file structure –facilitates interoperability with other platforms
  • Develop dynamic data sharing/integration in the UK with NBN, Tree Alert, Woodland Trust ATI –promotes data sharing and openness
  • Develop relationships with similar entities around the world –builds a unified global dataset, invaluable for larger Big Data tasks

Action (A9) Any members who see synergies between their work and Tremap to contact Richard Maxwell.


  • Michael Pocock announced that he had just had a paper published on nature-based citizen science benefits well-being and nature connectedness of participants, which adds to the range of activities already proven to enhanced human–nature interactions and nature connectedness.
  • Samantha Green announced that they would soon be conducting a tree buyers’ survey, which she will post on the jiscmail group

Summary of meeting and close

DS closed the meeting noting that it had perhaps been the most successful meeting to date as it had so successfully connected people and projects from across different fields of tree health (biosecurity), nature and ecosystem services; and that there was consistent messaging around the importance of collaboration and sharing (a) people to conduct surveys and science and (b) data – to record it once and use it for several purposes, including making use of existing platforms, such as the NBN Trust and its Atlases.

28 February 2023

Dr David Slawson,

Coordinator THCSN

APPENDIX 1 Attendees

AndyGordonObservatree volunteer
CarolynRiddellForest Research
DanWoodWelsh Government
DavidSlawsonImperial College London/Observatree volunteer
GinetteAlexanderYorkshire Arboretum
LizTrenchardCoventry University
LucyTurnerForest Research
MattElliotRBG Edinburgh
MattParrattForest Research
NicolaCummingsNorthern Ireland Government
RebecaaGoslingWoodland Trust
SamanthaGreenCoventry University
TomJenkinsForest Research Wales


KateLewthwaiteWoodland Trust
PeterCrowObservatree, Forest Research
SusanMooreObservatree volunteer
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