New centre to address skills shortfall in tree health

The Yorkshire Arboretum, near Castle Howard in North Yorkshire, will host what it says will be the UK's first purpose-built facility to broaden awareness of the threats to our trees posed by an increasing number of pests and diseases.

Image: SALT Architects
Image: SALT Architects

Following successful pilot courses held in 2018, the centre will offer training delivered by specialists on a commercial basis, mixing classroom, lab and outdoor learning settings, as well as a public outreach programme.

The arboretum's director Dr John Grimshaw said: "Protecting trees has never been more important – everyone is a stakeholder in tree health, from private householders with a back garden tree to the Highways Agency and councils. All need to know how to maintain healthy trees, or identify and manage those affected by pests and disease."

He added: "The government has identified a significant skills shortage in the field, and this lack of understanding around biosecurity has contributed to the current crisis. The Tree Health Centre is of vital importance in the promotion of healthy trees for a healthy future."

Sir William Worsley, Britain’s national Tree Champion, added: "I regard tree health as a critical issue to be addressed, and believe that the Tree Health Centre at the Yorkshire Arboretum will be a major force in raising public awareness and knowledge of this vital subject."

Construction of the single-storey structure adjacent to the arboretum’s existing visitor centre is expected to begin in July this year.

Funding for the project has come from the Peter Sowerby Foundation, the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund and £286,000 of the Government’s Local Growth Fund, secured by the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership.

YNYER LEP’s Skills and Employability Board chair Dr Ruth Smith said: "LEP funding will ensure that this vital, specialist knowledge centre will build the capacity in the region to protect tree health and lead the way for others, raising the profile of this critical issue."

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