Manage a tree pest or disease: overview

Find out what you can do to prevent or help minimise the introduction, establishment, spread and impacts of tree pests and diseases in the UK.

There’s a lot you can do to help prevent or minimise the introduction, establishment, spread and impacts of tree pests and diseases.

The threat to our trees, woods, forests, parks and gardens from damaging insect pests and organisms such as bacteria and fungi is significant. Some organisms can damage or kill dozens of different plant species, including trees. They can be spread in many ways, such as:

  • in the movements of plants, wood, and wood products
  • by wind and water
  • on vehicles, clothing, footwear, equipment and tools

As well as causing economic losses for the forestry, timber and plant-based industries, they can disrupt other sectors, such as tourism, and threaten woodland biodiversity, ecosystems and native species. The gardens of private homes are also under threat from tree pests and diseases, and private homeowners can help minimise the impact of tree diseases.

The following documents explain the approach to preventing and managing tree pests and diseases:

England tree health management plan

This document covers a range of diseases and gives specific examples. It sets out management approaches to tackling a range of important pests and diseases. It also provides a framework for managing future threats, and the strategy underpinning the approaches.

England tree health resilience strategy

This strategy builds on the Tree Health Management Plan and explains how the government will improve protection against pests and diseases, and how it will work with the industry and others to build resilience in our trees.

Plant biosecurity strategy for Great Britain

Overview of the activity that Defra and the devolved administrations are undertaking to improve plant biosecurity.

Useful resources

See the UK Plant Health Information Portal, a hub for plant health information, data and resources.

Use the UK Plant Health Risk Register, a tool to help guide action against pests and diseases that threaten our crops, trees, woods, forests, gardens and countryside.

Tree health funding

If your woodland has been affected by a pest or disease, you might be eligible for funding to improve tree and woodland health.

Tree Health Pilot

The Tree Health Pilot tests different ways of stopping the spread of some pests and diseases in some trees. The three-year Tree Health Pilot covers parts of the North West, West Midlands, London and the South East of England. The Pilot aims to establish 100 agreements with interested land owners and managers to help deal with trees affected by a pest or disease outbreak.

Woodland Tree Health Grant: Countryside Stewardship

The Tree Health Pilot will work alongside the existing Countryside Stewardship Woodland Tree Health grant, which will continue to be on offer until 2024 when the new Tree Health Scheme will be adopted.

Wood and timber products: import and export

Importing and exporting wood, timber and wood products provides information about the plant health regulations governing the import, export and some inland movements of wood and wood products.

Updates to this page

Published 26 September 2018
Last updated 31 August 2021 + show all updates
  1. Information on the Tree Health Pilot added.

  2. Incorrect text summarising one of the strategies. Replaced with summary of strategy paper.

  3. First published.

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