Trees are vital to our environment, because they: absorb carbon dioxide, give off oxygen, soak up much of our rainfall, provide shade and provide a habitat for many insects and birds.
Sadly, the trees in Britain are under threat as never before from a multitude of new (to us) pests and diseases. These are coming into the country in a variety of ways, including in unlicensed timber, packing materials, unchecked plants and on the wind from Europe.
Who is looking after our trees? There are several bodies who are involved with the care of our trees, including:
- Local councils
- The Forestry Commission as part of the Dept for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
- OPAL (Open Air Laboratories)
The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network is a UK-wide science initiative that aims to get everybody involved with nature, wherever they are and whatever their background.
For more information, go to www.opalexplorenature.org
TO DOWNLOAD A TREE IDENTIFICATION POSTER, CLICK HERE
How can you get involved?
The only way to cover the whole country is to get lots of people involved and we would like to encourage families, schools, dog-walkers, ramblers and everyone else who loves our trees to become tree wardens, looking at the trees in their area and identifying any problems as soon as they occur.
Whether you live in the countryside or in a city, trees are vital to our well-being and an hour a week spent making sure they are healthy is time well spent.
Reporting a problem
If you see an ill tree, or one with obvious pests on it, make a note of its location, take as clear a photo as you can and email it to http://www.forestry.gov.uk/treealert They will have a look and if they think it looks serious someone will visit the tree to have a look. Early identification can be a key to controlling the spread of many of these problems.
Take part in a survey
If you want to get more involved, you can take part in the OPAL Tree Health Survey, preferably between May and September. This registers which trees look healthy, as well as those that have problems, so they can say that "This area is free from xxx" as well as "This area is affected by xxx".
For full details of the survey, CLICK HERE
Another way you can help is by asking where timber comes from and looking for the Grown in Britain stamp on your new purchase. It is to timber what the Red Tractor is to food and proves that the wood has been produced entirely in the UK, decreasing imports, reducing the chance of pests and diseases entering the country and safeguarding the future of our woodlands. Find out more at www.growninbritain.org
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