Tree lovers needed to survey forest health

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Tree researchers are hoping “citizen scientists” will help them build up a picture of the health of broadleaved trees in the UK.

Local enthusiasts are being urged to help in the Government survey.

Berwickshire-based environment and climate change minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Trees are a vital and much-loved part of all our lives, but, as we all know, they are increasingly under threat from pests and diseases such as chalara dieback of ash and dothistroma needle blight.

“It (the survey) only takes about half an hour to complete, but the data gathered can potentially be of great assistance to the scientists and researchers who are engaging with these issues to manage tree health more effectively.”

The research is part of the Open Air Laboratory (OPAL) project that aims to involve lay people in “citizen science”.

The survey has been designed by Imperial College London in partnership with the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), part of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Forest Research, the research arm of Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), which funded 3,000 survey packs.

Mr Wheelhouse added: “At the moment Scotland is under-represented in the survey results, so I would urge anyone with an interest in trees – or in science – to get a pack and get surveying.”

A survey pack and information – including reusable guides and tree ID poster – can be downloaded from the OPAL website at www.opalexplorenature.org/TreeSurvey