Tree pests and diseases pose a serious threat to the well-being of urban trees, and with the benefits of urban forestry more crucial to our changing climates than ever before, it is important that we identify and tackle these problems as soon as they arise.

What Are Tree Pests and Diseases?

Tree pests and diseases refers to the various ways in which insects, bacteria, and fungi can damage a tree, which can have not only environmental impacts but economic ones, such as the costs of removing and replacing the tree.

When trees get older, the outermost layer will be alive, but the inside is, quite literally, dead wood. This actually helps mature trees out, and makes them better at fighting tree pests and diseases, because they will have a lot of bark on the inner-layers for which the pests can feed on. Younger trees are at risk though, since they won’t have any ‘cannonfodder bark’,.

Alternatively, diseases such as the Dutch Mature Elm’s disease is a fungi that attacks exclusively older trees, while younger trees can resist them.

With different threats to monitor for both mature and younger trees, quick identification of them can make short work of removing them; and ensure the survival of urban trees that populate our streets, gardens, parks, village greens that play a big role in our environment.

Different Types of Trees Pests and Diseases

This website on the key tree pests and diseases shows many different threats, with a UK-focus on it.

Observatree also has a comprehensive overview of pests and diseases with links to other resources on all of them.

Using woodland and insect related website databases like this can be a great tool in reducing the amount of time spent trying to identify what’s threatening a given tree, so that the time can be spent better elsewhere.

GIS Forecasting

Prevention is much better than reacting; which is why GIS forecasting is extremely useful, as we mentioned in 5 Reasons to Use a GIS. for forecasting the potential of pests and diseases affecting trees in an area. GIS software can assess not only the risk of tree branches falling off but the localised pests and diseases that may show up.

As the technology improves, this forecasting feature present in GIS software will become much more crucial for businesses operating in urban forestry, and our own QGIS product Mapscape offers this in an easy-to-understand way.

What To Do About Them

Using the list provided on GOV.UK will help with the identification of what’s affecting a given tree. It’s important to note that the list is not exhaustive, but can be helpful for narrowing down the list of potential culprits.

After identification, you can find the government guidance for any of the tree pests and diseases found in that table.

TreeAlert and TreeCheck are services within the UK that provide tree removal services. There is also the Animal and Plant agency (APHA) available to contact.

Reporting the tree to your native tree removal services or government is typically the way forward in this case, and it’s important that you do act to get this fixed. Any potential costs of getting these threats dealt with pales in comparison to the cost of having to pay for removal and replacement of a tree.


Identifying and removing tree pests and diseases is very important, especially because of the damage they can cause to urban trees which then has both environmental and economical implications.

There are plenty of resources online for identifying tree pests, and finding your local service that can help with removal is usually findable after a quick Google search.

Don’t be reactive, be preventative.

You can register for your free trial of Mapscape here, and use the tree risk assessment features to help you prevent tree pests and diseases from causing you a problem.

Got a question? Contact us!

0333 003 2338

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