Understanding the Diseases That Affect British Trees

To continue our series of posts celebrating National Tree Week, we wanted to share some useful information about tree diseases and why it is so important to manage them. In the UK trees and woodlands provide an ecosystem that’s valuable to the economy, society and wildlife. There are many threats to our tree population and tree diseases are just one of these perils that we can help to manage.

Tree diseases can pose a threat to wildlife as well as timber quality and forestry. Tree diseases can require control measures to be taken, which could impact on wildlife, as could the tree diseases themselves. Certain diseases such as Chalara dieback of ash (also known as ash dieback) are a particular concern to the RSPB due to the amount of UK wildlife species Ash trees host.  With this in mind, it is important to reduce the impact of tree diseases to protect our UK wildlife as well as our inviting countryside.

When a tree is diseased, the fungus or spores can spread to other trees, leading to whole infected woodland areas that require attention. The spores can be spread on wheels, tools, footwear, certain weather conditions like rain and air currents, and by movement of the infected trees. The first step towards reducing the spread of tree diseases is to identify them. If you spot a diseased tree, you can help to prevent spread by staying on forest roads, keeping dogs on a lead and removing any soil from your shoes before leaving the infected area. Certain tree diseases should also be reported so appropriate further action can be taken. Our guide to tree diseases outlines which of these require reporting and who to contact.

Although we can’t hope to eliminate tree diseases completely, learning more about what to look for in our own local areas and woodlands can raise awareness. With increased understanding we can lessen the effects of tree diseases by taking the appropriate action before they spread.

View details of the diseases below, or view and download the full PDF here.

acute oak decline

chalara dieback of ash

sweet chestnut blight

Dothistroma needle blight

dutch elm disease

phytophthora alni

phytophthora austrocedrae

phytophthora lateralis

phytophthora ramorum

UK Oak Doors
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