Neville Fay is proud to announce our new partnership study programme which has been launched in collaboration with a dear colleague, Professor Lucio Montecchio whose De Rebus Plantarum laboratory is a spin-off enterprise of the University of Padova, working at the forefront of research into biosecurity threats to European trees. The study workshop is a novel extension to our Innovations in Arboriculture Seminar Series.
At the end of June we returned from an exhilarating experience, hosted in the beautiful surroundings of Villa Revedin-Bolasco (in the medieval Castelfranco Vaneto City, near Venice) which was wonderfully organised by Lucio and his team.
It was a unique opportunity for a study experience in an environment where it was possible to creatively engage UK colleagues, charged with responsibility for managing trees and who are at the frontline of responding to biosecurity threats. Part of our experience derived from being immersed in a European culture but we also benefited from all the challenging discussions derived from direct experience of the impacts of Canker Stain of Plane.
In addition to the colleagues from Treework Environmental Practice and Tim Moya Associates we took other UK representatives from London Tree Officers Association, Transport for London, City of London Corporation, Islington, Southwark and Guildford Borough Councils, Forestry Commission and Barcham Nurseries.
Through this collaboration with Lucio, and other colleagues involved in this research, much of which derives from mainland Europe, we aim to deliver a programme of study, training and new knowledge exchange to inspire and improve conservation management of trees and landscapes. A core strand will focus on tree diseases, and tree and soil health and resilience.
Ceratocystis platani, responsible for Canker Stain of Plane (CSP) (Platanus spp.), is a Quarantine parasite listed in Annex IIAII of Directive 2000/29/EC. It is a wound pathogen causing canker, wilt and then death of infected trees. Since 1972 it has been present in Italy, where it has serious consequences for public and private gardens in both rural and urban environments.
There are no obvious climatic factors limiting the potential establishment and spread of the pathogen in the EU Countries where hosts are present, mainly because C. platani has multiple natural and human-assisted means of spread, including waterways, root anastomoses, contaminated pruning tools, and sawdust.
The movement of infected host plants for planting and wood is considered to be responsible for the introduction of the pathogen into new areas. Cultural practices and sanitary and chemical measures applied in the infested areas may reduce inoculum sources, and for these reasons a Governmental “Compulsory-Fight Decree” has been active in Italy since 1987.
We were taken through examples of Plane tree declines that, while looking like CSP, were caused by other agents including pollution.
We saw clear visual symptoms of CSP at different stages of mortality. And how to score the bark to reveal the Stain and take samples for culture.
We were taken to a site where an infected tree was being dismantled ready to be removed to an incineration depot, for entire site sanitation. Our UK delegates were required to wear full hazmat suits, so that we were free from contamination with infected spores. This was a real challenge at unseasonal temperatures of 34 degrees centigrade.
In the laboratory we were taken through microscopic identification of the various expressions of Ceratocystis platani.
I believe all those who attended this profoundly educational workshop came back to the UK with a level of competence to be able to identify CSP. This is a strong testimony to our partnership with all the delegates believing that they can contribute to protecting our Plane tree population armed with the knowledge and skills to respond to alerts of crown decline.