Leaf marked by tree disease

Combat the threats to our habitats

Pests, diseases and climate change pose serious threats to our precious trees. Enlightened management of woods will help ensure their future health: planting strong seeds and saplings, selecting species suited to the site, keeping forests mixed in age and kind, regular thinning, combatting invasive plants, and controlling infections and pests at the earliest sign.


  1. Bring all woods into management
    Managed woods are more resilient to the threats of pests, disease and climate change than neglected woods. Effective incentives are needed for woods to be brought back into management and for all woodlands to be managed to nationally recognised standards.

  2. Provide clear good practice guidelines on planting and management
    Informed decisions about species choice can ensure the best chance of newly planted trees thriving to create, replenish or buffer woodland habitats. Selection of the right tree in the right place should be supported through free-to-access, site-specific decision support tools. Knowledge networks should be created and maintained so that the skills required to manage woods well are available to all those who own or manage them.

  3. Ensure diversity of trees across the landscape
    Woodland habitats dominated by one species of tree are vulnerable, because the impact of a pest or disease that affects that species could decimate the landscape. Diversification of tree species and ages should be encouraged in all woodland and across landscapes to enhance resilience to threats.

  4. Let woods breathe
    A crowded wood leads to weaker trees more vulnerable to threats. Young woodland should be regularly thinned to promote growth of healthy trees by giving them the light and space to thrive.

  5. Actively manage orchards for the future
    Orchards need active management to endure. Good orchard management practice, including regular pruning and mulching, should be encouraged and supported to maximise the health and resilience of orchards long term.

  6. Act fast on pests and invasive species
    Woods can be irreparably damaged when populations of destructive animals and plants get out of control. Woods and landscapes with trees should be monitored closely, and the rigorous and sustained control of pests and destructive invasive species should be undertaken where needed to deliver management objectives, contain outbreaks and avoid extensive damage.

  7. Invest in research to find solutions to tree diseases
    Knowledge is our greatest tool in protecting the woods and trees of the future. Support should be provided for research into causes and treatments of tree disease, development of more productive and resilient tree species, and the sharing of knowledge and data between professionals and through volunteer networks.

  8. Ensure an early warning system for tree disease and pests
    We need to monitor for threats closely to ensure problems are identified before they get out of control. Properly funded and co-ordinated methods to report and effectively control pests and diseases should be maintained. This should include encouraging and enabling the general public to report sightings, outbreaks or concerns.

  9. Maintain a disease-free supply chain for trees and timber
    Preventing the spread of disease is better than treatment. Seed should be regulated to ensure it meets at least the basic standard of being sourced from trees and woods certified disease free, germinated and grown in the UK before planting. Rigorous biosecurity should be in place for all trees and timber to prevent the spread of pests and diseases.

  • Farm Forestry
    This special report by Confor features four case studies where farmers have successfully embraced forestry on their lands.
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  • Combatting Climate Change
    The Forestry Commission commissioned an assessment of the potential of the UK’s trees and woodlands to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
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  • Sustainable forest management
    The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) promotes sustainable forest management to address deforestation and to provide societal and environmental benefits.
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  • Seeing the Wood for the Trees
    The House of Commons Forestry in England report looks at the incentives for a barriers to woodland creation in England.
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  • National Tree Improvement Strategy
    This Future Trees Trust strategy advises on how to select the appropriate tree species to ensure sustainable woods.
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  • Climate change impacts
    Forest Research have produced a number of reports examining the impacts of climate change on England’s woodlands and adaptations to forestry management required.
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  • Right Tree, Right Place
    Guidance from the Forestry Commission advises on planning for forestry and woodlands.
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  • Selecting tree species
    Plan planting and management for the future using the Ecological Site Classification Decision Support System (ESC-DSS) from Forest Research.
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  • Coping with change
    The Sylva Foundation provides a digest of the issues facing woods and trees in 2017 and in years to come.
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