New AshTag app available – help secure a future for ash trees in Britain

posted on February 29, 2016

AshTag in the Apple store

We are excited to announce that our first app is now live in the Apple store – the new AshTag app.

Following the transfer of AshTag to the Sylva Foundation from the University of East Anglia, which first developed the app in 2012, we have been busy updating the app in readiness for a new season of ash tree tagging in 2016 – hopefully with your help!

We need to find ash trees across Britain that are tolerant to ash dieback. We expect that 2016 will witness the greatest spread of this devastating disease.

We offer the AshTag app to enable anyone to report on ash trees that are tolerant (to some degree) to ash dieback, caused by Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus – the fungus that causes ash dieback (formerly known as Chalara fraxinea).

We are most interested in larger trees but any tree can be surveyed. We are just as keen to learn about diseased trees as healthy trees. We are particularly keen to survey ash trees in every corner of Britain, because the genetics of ash trees vary across the country. Ideally, the trees selected need to be surveyed every year for at least three years, so that a detailed picture of their health is built up.

Ultimately, trees that appear to have some tolerance to ash dieback will be sampled by taking cuttings, and will enter a programme aiming to breed tolerant trees to secure a future for ash trees in Britain. We are working with partners the Earth Trust and Forest Research in this project, funded by Defra.

Using the AshTag app on your smartphone or tablet in the field makes the survey really simple

Using the AshTag app on your smartphone or tablet in the field makes the survey really simple

The survey consists of five questions and is simple to complete. To take part you can simply set up an account on the website, although using the app will allow you to enter information out in the field. If you would like to request a free AshTag pack, we have some limited supplies: apply here (if you have already requested a pack, don’t worry we have your name in our system). We are particularly keen to hear from those who run communities of volunteers (contact us).

If your tree appears to be tolerant, in the future you may be contacted by a scientist from the Living Ash Project who may be interested in sampling the tree to enter it into the breeding programme.

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Rust Spotters Needed

posted on May 24, 2012
RHS logo

Visit the RHS website pear rust page

Sylva has teamed up with the UK’s leading gardening charity, the Royal Horticultural Society, to launch the 2012 pear rust survey under our TreeWatch initiative.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is working with the Sylva Foundation to run a survey in the TreeWatch initiative to map the incidences of European pear rust across the country. Over the last ten years the RHS Advisory Service has seen a steady increase in enquiries suggesting that the fungus is spreading and gardeners are becoming more concerned about its effects.

Both charities are encouraging gardeners to get involved with this survey which is being run between May and September. Anyone wanting to help or provide information can visit: or send samples to the RHS Advisory Service.

European pear rust is a disease caused by the fungus Gymnosporangium sabinae. Like many rusts, it needs two hosts to complete its life cycle. It causes striking orange spots on pear leaves during summer. Junipers are the second host and infected plants produce orange, jelly-like, horn-like outgrowths in spring which produce spores.

“We are keen for gardeners to get involved with this survey because we need to find out why the fungus is increasing in frequency,” says John David, RHS Acting Head of Science. “Having better records will help us understand the biology behind this fungus and therefore in turn hopefully how to control it.”

Chief Executive of Sylva, Dr Gabriel Hemery, says “We are delighted to be working with the RHS again this year to support this important survey. With an increasing number of pests and pathogens impacting the health of our trees, the power of the citizen scientist is coming to the fore. Our collaboration during 2011 resulted in some important data that has now been shared with the National Biodiversity Network: the first time that disease data has been shared with this important national resource.”

Download the Press Release

Category: TreeWatch
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