Tree collections are very important; not only for botanical, educational, recreational and ornamental purposes but also for being an excellent ground for scientific studies. For the last three years, the Tree Health Diagnostic and Advisory Service (THDAS) team from the Forestry England Forest Research team has been carrying out pest and disease surveys at Bedgebury using the whole site as a sentinel tree collection. If they are able to detect possible threats early, they might be able to manage or control the threat before it spreads. It was during one of these surveys that the disease Neonectria canker of fir (Neonectria neomacrospora) was detected, which has led to an intensive survey of the whole fir collection.
Bedgebury is also one of the study sites for the project POnTE (Pest Organisms Threatening Europe) which is trying to determine what soil-borne phytophthoras are present. Soil samples have been collected in spring and autumn in different areas of the site to capture different environments, soil types, tree species, new plantings or areas of recreation. Bedgebury is an exclusive and unique resource which is providing scientists the chance to work in an extensive tree and conifer collection to better understand and discover potential new threats to the UK's trees.
Click here to find out more about Observtree, a collaborative project between Forest Research, Forestry England, APHA, Defra, Fera Science Ltd, the National Trust, Natural Resources Wales and the Woodland Trust. Funded by the EU’s Life programme, it aims to help spot new pest and disease threats to UK trees.