Young people encouraged to learn about tree health

A pine tree lappet moth caterpillar snacking on a pine needle. Photograph: Forest Research.

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The public body responsible for forestry regulation and policy in Scotland has produced a series of user-friendly factsheets for younger people to raise awareness of some of the pests and diseases affecting or threatening the country’s forests.

The move by Scottish Forestry is part of activities for the International Year of Plant Health 2020, which is a global initiative to celebrate the benefits of healthy plants, including showing how protecting our forests and woodlands can contribute to a better environment.

The online factsheets cover eight pests and diseases that are either already affecting trees in Scotland, or that Scottish Forestry is trying to prevent from arriving here.

This includes bugs such as the great spruce bark beetle, the large pine weevil and the pine tree lappet moth, as well as tree diseases like ash dieback and ramorum disease of larch trees which affected the forest at Beinn Ghuilean in Campbeltown this year.

Clari Burrell, tree health policy officer with Scottish Forestry, said: ‘Scotland’s forests and woodlands are a fantastic natural resource. They are great places to go for a walk or cycle, or just get away from it all in the countryside. They provide a habitat for wildlife and support thousands of jobs.

‘We need to ensure we keep all these positive benefits and protect our forests from a number of tree pests and diseases that are present in Scotland or may arrive here in the future. During International Year of Plant Health 2020, we are raising awareness of some of the pests and diseases affecting or threatening our forests and woodlands.

‘With climate change and the environment being a hot topic for school pupils, these new free factsheets can be used as a learning resource so that young people are more aware of this often unseen threat to our forests and woodlands.’

The public can play an important role in protecting Scotland’s forests and woodlands from tree pests and diseases.

Through the Keep It Clean campaign, Scottish Forestry encourages visitors to clean their shoes, bikes and other equipment before they visit a woodland.

Clari added: ‘Just take a moment to brush off any visible dirt and give footwear, tyres and kit a quick wash before visiting a forest or woodland. This helps slow disease spread, preserving our woodlands now and for future generations.’

Visit Scottish Forestry’s website at forestry.gov.scot to access the tree pests and diseases factsheets.