Following a significant investment by Defra, much of the TreeAlert system has been rebuilt. TreeAlert has been given a new look with responsive web design, adapting to mobile devices to make it more user friendly and has increased functionality including:

  • A new pest-specific reporting line for oak processionary moth (OPM)

  • A ‘use my location’ button which can be used on mobile devices to locate the affected tree on a map.

  • A new progress indicator that allows the user to see what stage they are at in the reporting process.

  • The ability for registered users to review a list of their previous TreeAlert submissions with improved feedback mechanisms

  • A news page

The biggest addition is the new ability for Observatree volunteers to record sentinel and healthy trees, linking directly with the unhealthy reporting process in one place. We have recently opened this healthy tree reporting option to any registered user, helping us to capture information on healthy trees such as ash.

With the healthy tree option enabled for registered users, as part of National Plant Health Week in May, Check a Sweet Chestnut was launched. This is a collaboration between the RHS, Defra, APHA Forest Research and Observatree looking to understand the health of sweet chestnut trees in the UK. Running over Summer, Check a Sweet Chestnut invites you to find a local Sweet chestnut tree and report on its health by either submitting a healthy tree report, or a tree health problem, specifically Oriental chestnut gall wasp or sweet chestnut blight via the ‘general report’ within TreeAlert, selecting ‘2023 Check a Sweet Chestnut’ as the project. Selecting this project will enable us to distinguish these data from other TreeAlert reports and add to previous records collected between 2020 and 2022 for Project HOMED.

What happens behind TreeAlert?

Behind TreeAlert lies Forest Research’s Tree Health Diagnostic and Advisory Service (THDAS) acting as an early warning system for Tree Health and comprising of pathology and entomology diagnosticians who are there to provide impartial advice, and where possible, diagnosis and identification of pests and pathogens on trees in Great Britain.

TreeAlert reports are triaged and assigned within THDAS. Once reviewed, the diagnostician assigned to your enquiry in some cases will make a diagnosis based on initial information, request further information or samples, and this will be done generally via email. Priority is given to any suspected regulated or quarantine pest or pathogen, and these cases may be followed up by the wider Plant Health Service (the respective authorities in England, Scotland and Wales) with whom the THDAS closely collaborate with.

THDAS are interested in sightings of all pests and pathogens so we can monitor trends and provide authorities and tree owners with the best possible opportunity to take appropriate action. If in doubt, please report a suspected pest or pathogen. - It is better to reassure you that there is no cause for alarm or that your findings may be commonplace than to miss a possible new threat to British trees. And the addition of new healthy tree data to our analyses will help us to track changes in pest or pathogen distributions and inform the effectiveness of any mitigation.

Please remember….

  • TreeAlert is for everyone
  • Anyone can report suspected cases of unhealthy looking trees
  • Registered users can report healthy trees
  • Users are guided through reporting – you do not need to be an expert

Further information on tree pests and pathogens can be found on the Forest Research and Observatree websites.