New £7m research package to tackle tree pests and diseases

The Government has announced seven new research projects valued at £7 million to address pest and disease threats to Britain's trees.

Diseased trees - image:Leonora Enking
Diseased trees - image:Leonora Enking

Launching the multi-disciplinary Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative (THAPBI), environment minister Lord de Mauley said: "It is vital we invest in research to better protect our precious woodland from the future threat of pest and disease."

Projects funded under the initiative are:

  • Population structure and natural selection in the Chalara ash dieback fungus, Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus – £635,000, led by Professor James Brown, the John Innes Centre
  • Identifying genomic resources against pests and pathogens in tree genera: a case study in Fraxinus – £760,000, led by Dr Richard Buggs, Queen Mary, University of London
  • Biological pest control of insect pests that threaten tree health – £900,000, led by Professor Tariq Butt, Swansea University
  • Promoting resilience of UK tree species to novel pests and pathogens: ecological and evolutionary solutions – £1.4m, led by Dr Stephen Cavers, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
  • Modelling economic impact and strategies to increase resilience against tree disease outbreaks – £900,000, led by Dr Adam Kleczkowski, University of Stirling
  • New approaches for the early detection of tree health pests and pathogens – £1.9m, led by Dr Rick Mumford, Food & Environment Research Agency (Fera)
  • Understanding public risk concerns: an investigation into the social perception, interpretation and communication of tree health risks – £615,000, led by Dr Clive Potter, Imperial College London.

THAPBI is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Defra, the Economic and Social Research Council, Forestry Commission, Natural Environment Research Council and the Scottish Government.


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