A Seeping Canker? Tree Disease Biosecurity

28 Nov 2012, 17:00 - 19:30

Attlee Suite, Portcullis House

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As highlighted in POSTnote 394, the risks from tree pests and pathogens is growing with the expansion of international trade and travel and transport of live trees and timber products, along with environmental changes

The latest threat, the fungal disease known as “ash dieback” (Chalara fraxineae) has the potential to become a severe tree disease epidemic, as with the 1960s/70s Dutch elm disease (Ophiostoma novo-ulmi) outbreak. Once such tree diseases are established, the range of stakeholders affected – gardeners, the horticultural trade, foresters, local authorities and nature conservation bodies, private landowners – poses significant challenges to implementing control measures. Unlike livestock disease outbreaks, the cost of control measures, such as destroying material that could spread the disease, falls on stakeholders. Without an effective biosecurity system, further tree disease epidemics will also alter landscapes and affect the provision of multiple economic, social and environmental benefits, including:

  • the significant contribution to the UK economy from the forestry and wood processing sectors
  • potential wood biomass provision for the energy sector
  • loss of biodiversity, including protected species and culturally iconic species
  • visits to gardens in Britain, generating £300 million in direct spending annually, with 12 million visitors each year to the National Trust’s 220 historical gardens
  • the ‘urban green infrastructure’ of urban trees and gardens (gardens containing about 28.7 million trees)
  • environmental benefits such as carbon sequestration, valued at £115 million, biodiversity, valued at £476 million and recreation valued at £484 million annually.

A brief summary of the event can be found here, and the presentations can be accessed from the links below along with audio

Chair’s welcome


Dr Joan Webber
Principal Pathologist and Head of Tree Health Research Group, Forest Research Group Chair
Audio (MP3 11.42 MB)

Martin Ward (PDF PDF 373 KB)
Chair of European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation, Head of Plant health Policy, The Food and Environment Research Agency
Audio (MP3 14.08 MB)

Hillary Allison
Director of Policy, Woodland Trust
Audio (MP3 14.19 MB)

Dr Steve Woodward
Co-ordinator of the EU ISEFOR project (Increasing Sustainability of European Forests: Modelling for Security Against Invasive Pests and Pathogens under Climate Change), Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen
Audio (MP3 19.36 MB)

Question and Answer Session
Audio Part 1
Audio Part 2