People power for healthy trees

posted on April 13, 2012

Our TreeWatch web platform has received a major update following feedback from partners and volunteers during our 2011 pilot.

We hope that our new strapline captures perfectly the importance of our work in supporting a healthy future for our trees with the help of everyone with an interest in nature and trees …

  “People power for healthy trees


Trees and forests are facing unprecedented threats from an ever increasing number of pest and pathogens. Already in 2012 we have been alerted to the first ever reports in the UK of the serious pest the Asian Longhorn beetle, and the pathogen Chestnut blight, which has killed 3.5 billion chestnuts in the US.


TreeWatch homepage

The new homepage of TreeWatch

The new homepage for TreeWatch enables volunteers to read a short summary about our current surveys, and with a single click go to the survey page.  A live map shows the distribution of adopted trees.

We listened to the views of users during our 2011 pilot and have made significant changes to the structure of the website. The major changes are:

– volunteers can report a simple presence/absence record without having to adopt a tree

– everything relating to each survey has been brought together. Report a finding, adopt a tree, read about the survey, or explore the results submitted by other volunteers – all on one page.

– as the number of trees and data has increased on the website, the time taken for the map to load increased. We have introduced some nifty ‘clustering’ icons that group together any data that is located close to other data.

TreeWatch - new look survey page with clustering of data on the map

TreeWatch - new look survey page with clustering of data on the map

Category: TreeWatch

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Chestnut blight in Britain

posted on March 22, 2012

Chestnut blight, caused by the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica (C. parasitica), has been confirmed in Britain for the first time by scientists from Forest Research. The blight was found on young trees in two small orchards of European sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) in Warwickshire and East Sussex.

The fungus infection is usually fatal to European sweet chestnut and its North American relative, Castanea dentata, although it appears to be less virulent in Europe than it is in America. It is believed to have first originated in Eastern Asia before being introduced to North America in the late 19th Century, where it has since devastated billions of trees in the East of the country (see The American Chestnut Foundation). It was first identified in Europe in 1938, in Italy, and has since spread to most parts of southern Europe where sweet chestnut is grown, and to parts of northern Europe.

Identifying chestnut blight

The most obvious symptoms of chestnut blight are wilting and die-back of tree shoots. Young trees with this infection normally die back to the root collar, and might re-sprout before becoming re-infected. Other symptoms, such as stem cankers and the presence of fruiting bodies can also occur.

Read more about the fungus and find out how to report a possible occurence of chestnut blight on the Forestry Commission’s webpage for Chestnut Blight

Read more about our work to combat tree pests and diseases at




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Three hundred trees adopted on TreeWatch

posted on January 6, 2012

The three hundredth tree was adopted under our TreeWatch initiative over the Christmas period. Most adopted trees are located in the UK but there are some also in France, Italy and Spain.

Other news in TreeWatch is the successful completion of our Pear Rust survey with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) during 2011. The data have been shared with the RHS for detailed analyses, and a full report will be made available when investigations are complete.

The horse chestnut leaf miner survey was run for the second year in 2011. Positive records, showing presence of the leaf miner, were reported for the first time in North Wales, and northern England (near Leeds).  A detailed report will be published soon.

Read more about TreeWatch at

Category: TreeWatch

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Horse chestnut survey time

posted on September 4, 2011

Across Europe horse chestnut trees are looking tired and ragged, and prematurely autumnal in colour, due to damage to their leaves by an insect: the horse chestnut leaf miner.

Now is the time to record whether trees near you have been infected by joining our TreeWatch project.  Help us record the spread of this pest and your data will be shared with scientists who want to find out more about the pest.

Visit to find out more.

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TreeWatch international

posted on May 27, 2011

Interest in TreeWatch beyond the UK continues to grow.  The first tree in Italy was adopted this week: a Quercus pubescens near Salerno in the south of the country.  read more

It coincided with our addition of the Google Translate tools to the TreeWatch website.  This enables the entire website to be automatically translated to a multitude of different European and other languages.  According to our latest and Italian TreeWatch volunteer, the translation is not perfect but does a reasonable job.

It is vital that any monitoring of tree health has an international perspective as environmental change of all forms, whether climate change or pests and diseases, has no respect for national boundaries.  We hope that interest in TreeWatch will continue to grow beyond the UK and help us play a role in securing a future for trees.

Category: TreeWatch

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TreeWatch – help spread the word

posted on May 19, 2011
TreeWatch flier

Download the TreeWatch flier (pdf)

Can you help spread the word about TreeWatch?  We are looking for more people to get involved by adopting trees and helping with surveys.  Perhaps you work in a school or colleage and could help promote it as a student project, or think your friends or work colleagues may be interested.

We have created a flier for TreeWatch that is easy to print at home or in the office.  Open the pdf file and alter the print setting to ‘multiple pages per sheet’, which will allow you to print two A5 copies per A4 page.

If you would like a large number of TreeWatch fliers for a public venue, please contact us, and we will be happy to provide you with printed copies.

Category: TreeWatch

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One hundredth tree adopted

posted on May 9, 2011
TreeWatch adopted trees - May 2011

We have just celebrated the 100th tree being adopted in our TreeWatch initiative.

We now have trees on the map across much of England and are looking forward to seeing interest spread across Scotland and Wales.  It’s also great to see trees adopted in France and Spain.

Thank you to all our ‘adoptees’ for their help and enthusiasm so far.  Please do help us spread the word about TreeWatch.

TreeWatch team

Category: TreeWatch

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BBC Radio Oxford interview

posted on May 8, 2011

Sylva’s CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery was interviewed on BBC Radio Oxford earlier today.

He talked about our latest initiative TreeWatch and our OneOak exhibition currently open at Oxford Botanic Garden.

Listen again (from 1 hour 16 minutes) for one week only.

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Pear Rust survey

posted on April 5, 2011

Royal Horticultural Society
We have launched a new survey under our TreeWatch initiative in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society.

Stage 1 of the European pear rust

Stage 1 of the European pear rust

We are asking volunteers to help by adopting a Pear tree Pyrus communis and observing it regularly for the European Pear Rust Gymnosporangium sabinae.

The new survey has been added to our new look TreeWatch website, which was relaunched last week.  The survey will be promoted by the RHS to their members. Sylva and the RHS will be working closely together to analyse the data.

If you have a pear tree in your garden or nearby park, why not adopt it on TreeWatch and take part in the survey.

Have you adopted your tree yet?

Category: TreeWatch

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TreeWatch website relaunched

posted on March 31, 2011

TreeWatch logo

We’ve been busy working on the website for TreeWatch in readiness for its relaunch today.

Many enhancements have been made, building on the success of the pilot during 2010 and listening to feedback we received from early adoptors.  We have also implemented a large number of changes in readiness for future planned activities.

We are hopeful of attracting good interest this year, thanks to several articles in the press and in membership magazines.  These are the main changes:


Several surveys are now running concurrently.  We have also broadened the science to encourage the monitoring of general tree growth and health on a regular basis, in addition to specific scientific surveys.

  • Last year we ran a survey of the horse chestnut leaf miner.  We are repeating it this year.
  • We are collaborating with the Royal Horticultural Society to run jointly a pear rust survey.
  • We have introduced an Annual Survey to encourage all volunteers to monitor the growth and health of their trees on a regular basis.  This means that if a volunteer’s adopted tree is not the subject of a specific scientific survey, there is now an opportunity to collect data regularly.  This could prove to be an important archive of data in the future.
  • We have plans to introduce more surveys during the year.
  • We will be working closely with our scientific partners, sharing scientific data, analysing it and reporting on findings.


  • The sign up proceedure is even simpler.  We ask for just the essential data about a tree: it’s location, the species, and a memorable name for it.  More comprehensive data can be added when a user has signed in.
  • Users when signed in can now see all their adopted trees listed together and view them on their own map.
  • All trees adopted in the TreeWatch initiative are visible on the explore page where it is possible to filter by species.
  • We have developed an ‘orphan’ tree system where users can release their trees if they no longer wish to monitor them.  This solves an issue where years of tree data could be potentially lost.


In terms of the website, we have plans to add a forum to the site so that TreeWatch volunteers can share experiences, ask questions and contribute in new ways to the work of TreeWatch.  We will also be improving the international functionality of the site.  We will be adding a photo uploading facility.  Ultimately we want to develop a mobile phone app but need to fundraise to make this possible.

We are talking to existing and to new partners about developing the TreeWatch initiative in various exciting new ways.

We would love to hear your views on the new website and other comments on the initiative. 

Have you adopted your tree yet?

Category: TreeWatch

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