Plant and tree health

The threat to our trees from pests and diseases is growing. Climate change, global travel and imported plants and wood can increase pests and diseases and their impacts.  

Pests and diseases can spread rapidly, damaging different parts of the tree and affecting timber quality. This can have a knock-on effect on the forest industries.

Taking tree health seriously helps us keep our forests healthy and flourishing for wildlife and people alike.

Current threats

In Scotland, our biggest threat is Phytophthora ramorum. You might have heard of Chalara dieback of ash and Dothistroma needle blight too.

You can find out more about these and other threats at the UK pests and diseases pages. You can also check the Observatree information portal.

How we’re tackling tree health

Forests, and the pests and diseases that affect them, are part of a complex ecosystem. As part of our effort to manage tree health to help safeguard the resilience of forestry we:

  • Work with partners to understand the biology of pests and diseases and learn how to combat or live with them.

  • Undertake aerial surveillance of Scotland's woodlands to spot early signs of tree health issues.

  • Help to inform importers and exporters of the relevant regulations and restrictions.

  • Issue Statutory Pant Health Notices requiring that woodland owners act to contain or slow down outbreaks.

  • Provide targeted plant health grants where it is in the public interest to do so.

  • Encourage the reporting of signs of infections via Tree Alert.

  • Encourage everyone to take appropriate biosecurity measures and Keep it Clean.

Help us keep our forests healthy – Keep it clean

Everyone has a part to play in keeping our forests healthy. Pests and diseases can move from one site to another in mud and dirt collected on boots, tyres and paws.

The most important thing you can do is clean up. Make sure you clean your shoes, your bike and your dog before visiting any forest.

Together we can help control the spread of forest diseases. To find out more, visit Keep it clean.