Volunteers are to receive expert training to help them identify diseases that are attacking trees in the county as part of the Woodland Trust’s Observatree project.
Observatree is being run in partnership with the Durham Woodland Revival project, of which Durham County Council is a leading partner. Durham Woodland Revival has received initial support for National Lottery funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Volunteers will receive the training from the Woodland Trust and scientists from the Food and Rural Environment Agency (FERA).
The training day will comprise a mix of classroom-based exercises and practical work in the surrounding woodland.
Participants will learn how to spot specific pests and diseases, in particular ‘Chalara ash dieback’, a fungal disease affecting ash and beginning to spread across County Durham.
The volunteers will also learn how to report their findings to the Forestry Commission’s central tree health database and how to enact effective biosecurity measures before visiting woodland sites.
Cllr Ossie Johnson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues, said: “County Durham’s woodlands are a precious resource for both people and wildlife, but it is a part of our heritage that is currently at risk.
“The Woodland Trust’s Observatree project is an exciting opportunity to learn from the experts at the Woodland Trust and FERA, and puts volunteers on the frontline of environmental care.
“We’re very grateful to have them here in the county as part of the Durham Woodland Revival Project.”
Helen Jones, from the Woodland Trust, said: “Protecting our trees from pests and diseases is vital to us all and tracking the current spread of these is a key task in enabling us to deal with this threat.
“It is entirely dependent on volunteers coming forward to help our efforts and I am very pleased to be able to extend our ground-breaking national project into County Durham through our partnership with the Durham Woodland Revival programme.”
To volunteer for the Observatree project, please e-mail [email protected]org.uk.