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Send in your OPAL tree survey results, says RFS
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Andrew Hoppit, from the Forestry Commission’s Oak Processionary Moth Project, centre, and, to his right, Joan Webber, Forest Research’s Principal Pathologist and Head of Tree Health, lead an OPAL training event in the RFS Hockeridge and Pancake Woods.

Date Issued: 12 September 2013


The RFS is urging people to send in completed national tree health (OPAL) survey forms – even if they have found no evidence of tree disease. The call comes as the deadline for 2013 survey closes at the end of this month (September). The survey itself will continue for at least three years, but researchers from Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) are waiting to analyse the year one results.

The RFS has held two well-attended OPAL training days in its own woods at Battram in Leicestershire, and in Hockeridge Woods in Hertfordshire, and a number of RFS Divisions have also held training events for members and invited guests.

RFS Development Director Simon Lloyd says: “We hope that all those who attended training events will be inspired, not only to carry out their own surveys but to show others how to do so.

“To understand the spread of diseases it is just as important to know where there have been no signs of disease found, as where there have been. The more people who take part in the OPAL survey, the better the understanding nationally.”

Set up in the wake of the confirmation of ash dieback disease (Chalara fraxinea) in the UK, the survey focuses on common pests and diseases in Britain’s most well-known trees (ash, oak and horse chestnut). It also asks people to look out for six of the most dangerous threats to trees, including Chalara and non-native pests such as the Emerald Ash Borer beetle.

If you think you have spotted one of the ‘Most Unwanted’ pests and diseases, it is essential that you alert Forestry Commission officials through: