Despite the best efforts of Storm Doris, Observatree year four volunteer training days ran smoothly over the course of February and March.  A big ‘thank you’ goes out to volunteers who braved the weather and managed to attend these sessions.  Eleven events were held throughout England, Scotland and Wales with one left to deliver in June for Northern Ireland.

Once again the National Trust provided most venues for these events.  This meant we could enjoy the beautiful surroundings of properties such as Dunham Massey (NW England), Scotney Castle (SE England) and Tredegar House (Wales).

Trainers came from Forest Research, Forestry Commission England and Scotland, APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency), FERA Science Ltd and The Woodland Trust.  As with previous years, a range of topics covered:

  • winter tree ID
  • priority pests and diseases
  • an outside survey activity
  • a refresher demonstration on sampling and photography

Looking at the feedback we’ve received so far all attending volunteers were satisfied or highly satisfied with the training sessions – the most popular activity being the winter tree ID workshop. Volunteers also really enjoyed the outside activity, especially when there were real pests and diseases to see such as ash dieback.  There were other diseases to see such as horse chestnut bleeding canker and Phytophthora bleeds.

This year we included a session where volunteers were asked to make suggestions about how they would like to see the next phase of the project, such as how improvements could be made and what elements they would like to see continue. Volunteers clearly enjoy face to face training events, interactive webinars and regular project updates.  Long may they continue.

Here are some of the quotes we received from volunteers:

“Many thanks for the day – it was as excellent as always. I have loved being a part of Observatree and I really hope it will go on. The skills and knowledge gained through your training events, webinars and field guides has been fantastic!”,  Kayleigh L.

“Really enjoyed the training session at Dunham Massey – there is always something new to learn”,  David R.

Thanks again to everyone involved in the training days. It has been a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing you at future events.