Defra announce Tree Health pilot

Announced on 31 August, the Government’s Tree Health pilot will support action against pests and diseases in ash, sweet chestnut, larch and spruce trees in England. The findings from the three-year pilot scheme, delivered by the Forestry Commission, will help develop the future Tree Health scheme that is due to launch in 2024.

Defra are urging interested land owners and managers in the North West, West Midlands, London and the South East to sign up to the pilot that aims to establish 100 agreements that will help deal with tree pest or disease outbreaks.

If you are interested in taking part in the pilot, the trees or woodlands you manage must be one of the following:

  • ash with ash dieback
  • larch with Phytophthora ramorum
  • spruce growing in the high-risk spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) area
  • sweet chestnut with Phytophthora ramorum or sweet chestnut blight


The UK’s Chief Plant Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spence, said:

“Plants and trees deliver £10.5 billion per year in social, environmental and economic benefits, from providing a safe environment for wildlife and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, to enabling a sustainable timber industry.

I encourage eligible stakeholders to help us protect these vital national assets by submitting their expressions of interest to the Tree Health pilot.”

Find out more


Ips typographus High Risk Area in South East England

After several new breeding populations of the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle, Ips typographus, were identified in Kent in early July, a demarcated area was put in place to prevent the spread. If the pest was to become established in England, it would have a major impact on our environment and wood-based industries. Applicants to the Tree Health pilot with a Statutory Plant Health Notice (SPHN) or who are based in the South East England high risk area highlighted in red on the demarcated area map below will be prioritised.


If you are based in South East England and may be eligible for support to fell and restock your woodland that has been affected by the spruce bark beetle, we strongly encourage you to submit an expression of interest form for the Tree Health pilot scheme. By actively managing your woodlands, you can increase their resilience and protect them against future threats.

The Forestry Commission have produced a flyer to promote the support available for Ips infested and at risk spruce for circulation to those in the South East – please share this with anyone you think may be eligible for funding.

Download flyer

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