Promoting preparation: Tree health & biosecurity plans

Forestry Commission is a sponsor of the 2018 National Tree Officers Conference (NTOC). 

If a notifiable pest or disease were to be found affecting a tree, woodland, or forest under your management, what would be your response? Would you:

  1. Take early retirement?
  2. Ask yourself where you are going to find the additional time and funding to deal with the problem?
  3. Consult your pre-prepared tree health and biosecurity plan?
Figure 1: Harvester removing Phytophthora ramorum infected Larch trees.

In Forestry Commission England’s Tree Health Team, time after time we see the frustration that can ensue when land managers have to implement suitable tree health and biosecurity management practices at the last minute after being caught out by positive findings of notifiable pests or diseases on their trees.

Our advice to avoid such situations? Be prepared! Having a robust tree health and biosecurity plan in place before these problems arise can not only help prevent the spread of tree pests and diseases onto your land, but also ease the associated pressure of taking action if they do.

A good tree health and biosecurity plan will:

  • Identify the key pest and disease threats to your site.
  • Contain a risk assessment of each pest and disease based upon its likelihood of establishment and spread, and its potential impact on the site.
  • Include details of appropriate biosecurity measures to prevent the introduction and spread of each pest and disease on to and around the site.
  • Assess the site activities that could contribute to the movement of pests and diseases on to and around the site, and provide mitigation measures to prevent this.
  • Identify the contact details of the relevant tree health authorities.
  • Keep it Clean
    Figure 2: FC’s ‘Keep it Clean’ campaign provides simple and achievable biosecurity guidance to us all help protect the health of our trees.

    Detail the contingency measures and procedures to be followed in the event of a pest or disease outbreak.

Tree health and biosecurity plans are already being successfully created and implemented by forward-thinking land managers. The team at Lesnes Abbey Woods in the London Borough of Bexley recently won the Borough Tree Award at London’s Tree and Woodland Awards (aka the Tree Oscars) for their plan. They have been commended on how their mitigation methods for activities on site remain practical and cost effective, whilst ensuring visitors can still easily access and enjoy the site. This just goes to show that creating a tree health and biosecurity plan is a worthwhile endeavour and does not have to be a hindrance.

As part of the Forestry Commission’s ‘Keep it Clean’ biosecurity campaign, we will soon be launching a land manager toolkit containing a variety of tree health and biosecurity related resources, including guidance on how to create your own tree health and biosecurity plan. Whilst we are putting the final touches to our toolkit please do not hesitate to get in contact with the Tree Health Team via if you have any questions about creating your own plan. We are happy to help you prepare for whatever tree health related challenges the future may bring!

Spotted a tree pest or disease? Report it via Tree Alert!

Join the conversation – follow us on Twitter for tree health related news via @ForestryComm.


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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Forestry Commission and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute of Chartered Foresters. 

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