Professionals share knowledge to protect trees

Professional foresters and tree health specialists from across the UK and Ireland attended a recent event hosted by Forest Service to share knowledge and expertise on current and future risks to our tree health and woodlands.

The event, organised by plant health staff, was held at Castle Archdale Country Park in Co Fermanagh and it attracted a high level of interest among major forestry organisations including the Society of Irish Foresters, Institute of Chartered Foresters, Royal Forestry Society as well as private forestry companies and consultants.

Delegates who recently attended a Forest Service tree health meeting at Castle Archdale Country Park.

Delegates who recently attended a Forest Service tree health meeting at Castle Archdale Country Park.

In his opening address Chief Forest Officer John Joe O’Boyle, set the theme for the event stressing the high value society places on trees and woodlands for their contribution to public health, recreation and tourism as well as to the economy and wider biodiversity.

Chaired by Plant Health Director Jim Crummie the morning session commenced with Dr Richard O’Hanlon, from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, presenting on significant current and emerging tree pests and diseases, including Chalara ash dieback which is now widely spread across Northern Ireland.

Forest Service’s Head of Inspections, John Finlay, then went on to explain how woodland owners and the forestry sector can help prevent the spread of tree diseases by taking some simple biosecurity measures.

This was followed by Diane Stevenson, Plant Health Policy, who briefed delegates on a recent consultation on a revision of the future management of Chalara ash dieback.

The morning session concluded with Stuart Morwood, Head of Forest Policy, describing how forest managers and owners can increase the future resilience of their woodland through implementing relevant forest management actions.

In the afternoon delegates visited two different types of woodland, led by Ben Searle, Forest Service. Delegates discussed management options to improve the resilience of trees to disease both in a mixed broadleaved wood with a wide diversity of different tree species and in a new native ash woodland.

Further information on tree health as well as presentations from the meeting can be found on the DAERA Website at: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/topics/plant-and-tree-health