Jul 30 2019

Tree pests and diseases course a success

Woodland Trust volunteers took part in a ‘tree pests and diseases’ course recently at Belton Old School Hall in Lincolnshire. Some of the greatest threats posed to trees were covered, including ash dieback and Phytophthora.


The trainer was Matt Elliot, who is the Conservation Adviser for Tree & Woodland Health for the Woodland Trust. Matt went through the many causes of plant disease, which can be either biotic (examples include fungi, bacteria, viruses) or abiotic (for example drought, pollution, herbicide over application). There are many pests and diseases of concern including Phytophthora diseases (Phytophthora is greek for ‘plant destroyer’), Chalara ash dieback, Dutch elm disease and oak decline. Pests such as the oak precessionary moth caterpillar, the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle and the Asian longhorn beetle were also discussed.


To add to the long list of pests and diseases in the UK were pests and diseases that could potentially reach our shores, such as Xylella fastidiosa which has already caused terrible damage to woody plants in Europe and has most notably decimated ancient Italian olive groves. The emerald ash borer has destroyed ash trees in the US and Canada and with our ash trees already battling dieback, the presence of the emerald ash borer would quickly finish them off.



On a positive note the volunteers learnt how action could be taken to reduce spread and this included keeping footwear as clean as possible and cleaning tools after working on site. More information can be found on this free online course. Another action was buying trees and plants that are UK sourced and grown.


More information is available on the Woodland Trust website, the Forest Research website and the Observatree website. You can also report a suspected pest or disease by visiting the Forestry Commission website.


Thanks to Matt for delivering and to all volunteers who came along.

Amanda Brookes – Volunteer Development Officer Central
Claire Green – Volunteer Development Officer North

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