Keep your eyes peeled for tree pests and diseases

It’s a prime time of year to start spotting pests and diseases that can affect the health of trees with the help of the OPAL tree health survey.

The survey, which is taking place across the UK for a second year, asks the public to report their findings – good or bad – and keep their eyes peeled for the ‘Most Unwanted’, six pests and diseases which could pose a serious threat to our trees.

Citrus Longhorn Beetle

The survey was developed in partnership with Forest Research and Fera (the Food and Environment Agency) – which this week scooped an award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for their ‘Plants Need Passports Too’ exhibit encouraging the public to protect our environment from pests and diseases.

Another supporter of OPAL’s tree health survey, the City of London Corporation, won a silver medal for their garden, which featured the Oak Processionary Moth, one of the survey’s Most Unwanted species.

Congratulating the two organisations on their awards, OPAL Director David Slawson – who helped showcase Fera’s exhibit on Monday – said: “Fera and the City of London Corporation are very brave because the messages about the risks of imports, planting instant trees and bringing cuttings back from holidays can be challenging for some audiences.

Caterpillar of the Oak Processionary Moth

“However, once more aware, the public’s response to these exhibits has been fantastic – they all want to do their bit to protect our countryside and city from damaging pests and diseases.”

The tree health survey is among public surveillance projects included in the Government’s recently-published Tree Health Management Plan and Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Britain.

With warmer weather arriving across the UK, it’s a great time to get involved in the survey, and tree-related events are taking place across the country to inspire your interest in trees, including London Tree Week, which begins on Saturday.