Tree pests and diseases

Identify, report, prevent and minimise the introduction, spread and impacts of tree pests and diseases in the UK.

There are many things you can do to prevent or minimise the introduction, establishment, spread and impacts of tree pests and diseases, including:

  • learning to recognise and report pests and diseases of concern
  • adopting good biosecurity practice to avoid the spread of organisms from place to place
  • not bringing soil or plants back from holidays abroad

Understand the threat to our trees

The damage to our trees, woods and forests from insect pests and organisms such as bacteria and fungi is significant. The rapid increase in movements of goods and people between countries has increased the risk of spreading pests and diseases. They can travel hidden in plants, plant products, packaging, wood, vehicles and holidaymakers’ luggage - even in the soil carried on shoes.

Some of these pests and diseases do little harm in their native environments, where predators, environmental factors and co-evolution with their host plants keep them in check. However, they can cause significant damage to trees and plants in other countries where those limiting factors are not present. Some single species of insect, fungus or bacterium can damage or kill dozens of different plant species, including trees. 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.

Get notifications about tree pests and diseases

Sign up for, and read previous editions of, the Forestry Commission’s Tree Health News newsletter.

Follow the Forestry Commission on Twitter.

Contact the tree health teams

Make a general enquiry about tree, woodland and forest health in England

For the rest of the UK, see:

You can also find more information on scientific research into tree pests and diseases.

Identify a tree pest or disease

Report a notifiable tree pest or disease

Manage a tree pest or disease

Published 26 September 2018
Last updated 5 March 2020 + show all updates
  1. Information on Plant Health legislation for forestry has been added to this page.

  2. First published.