The project

The problem

Ash is one of the most common and valued tree species in the UK. In this project we are focusing on protecting and mitigating the effects of two serious threats to UK ash: ash dieback and the emerald ash borer. Ash dieback is a disease in ash that has caused damage and loss to a high proportion of ash trees since its arrival in the UK in 2012. The emerald ash borer is an insect pest and whilst adults cause little damage the larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees and so disrupt the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. The emerald ash borer is not currently thought to be present in the UK but is spreading westwards from Russia and the Ukraine as it “hitchhikes” on vehicles, in traded firewood and on live plants. In the United States, where emerald ash borer is an introduced species, it has caused the loss of hundreds of millions of trees. It is believed that if it arrives in the UK, it will pose a significant threat to our remaining ash trees due to their weakened state from ash dieback.


The project

The project, Surveillance and Management of multiple Risks to Treescapes: Integrating Epidemiology and Stakeholder behaviour, will investigate how individuals and stakeholder groups can influence the successful detection and management of multiple risks to tree health focusing on ash trees.

With forests, hedgerows and other amenity trees (collectively treescapes), it is not always possible to prevent pests and diseases arriving, therefore, early detection and successful management are key areas where science can deliver.

Management guidance is often pest or disease specific but management decisions are often made regarding host tree species that may face multiple threats. The value of our project is that it investigates the system, the interaction between multiple threats and the impact of land managers on the management of the system. We will focus on the link between the epidemiology of the system and the role of land managers and stakeholder groups in detecting threats and managing tree health.

Management plans for invasive species are often coordinated centrally, but in practice early detection can be improved by local engagement with landowners, land managers, or site visitors, thus, should planning account for their needs and encourage collaboration?

We will bring together forest-epidemiology, entomology, modelling and social science to determine what makes a successful surveillance and management programme.

The research is composed of three work packages: