Tree health survey scoops Government award

The OPAL tree health survey has been recognised at Defra’s annual Team Awards, winning the department’s Civil Service Reform Award.

The survey was developed last year by OPAL partners working with the Government agencies Fera (the Food and Environment Research Agency) and Forest Research.

The project was praised by Defra as a "unique, highly innovative partnership" and Sir Bob Kerslake, Head of the Civil Service, presented the award to OPAL and Fera staff at the central London ceremony.

OPAL and Fera staff accept the award from Sir Bob Kerslake (far right)

Thousands of people across the UK signed up to take part and survey the health of trees in their neighbourhoods, while checking for evidence of potentially harmful pests and diseases.

Roger Fradera, OPAL Portfolio Manager, said: “We felt really honoured just to be nominated for the award; to win was well beyond our expectations but it is a real credit to everyone that was involved in the OPAL tree health survey.

"That includes our partners who helped us develop the survey, various experts from organisations passionate about trees, all the OPAL staff across our network, and in particular, the members of the public who gave up their time to carry out the survey spotting invasive pests and diseases that are such a threat to our natural heritage."

The Fera plant health team will need to clear even more room on their mantelpiece, after also taking home the Innovation award for their ‘Stop the Spread’ garden at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show.