Volunteers flock to help on Observatree project

Interest in the Observatree pest and disease project has been "overwhelming", according to Woodland Trust citizen science manager Kate Lewthwaite, with around 200 volunteers and a waiting list of around 50.

One success was the control of an outbreak of oriental chestnut gall wasp in Kent, "following an Observatree call-out", she said. "We need eyes on the ground. Our web-based alert service is checked daily. We have 20 priority pest and disease species, but some are hard for volunteers to identify."

To address this, the trust runs masterclasses to boost volunteers' skills as well as self-guided learning on the web. The project is funded by Defra and the EU but only for two years. "The challenge will be to keep it going after that," added Lewthwaite.


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