Keep It Clean - Don’t Give Pests and Diseases an Easy Ride

The text below forms one side of a Biosecurity in Forestry leaflet by Forestry Commission England. Get the full leaflet

Many of our trees are under threat from pests and diseases.

Human activity is a key factor in the spread of pests and diseases, being able to move them faster and over longer distances than natural means of spread can.

People working in forestry are at high risk of spreading pests and diseases. We frequently encounter infected material, work at multiple sites, and transport tools and material that can carry pests and diseases. We are also ideally placed to spot outbreaks early, and taking action at the right time can minimise the impact.

We can reduce the spread of pests and diseases by undertaking basic biosecurity day to day to minimise the amount of soil, water and plant material we carry between sites. This can also help to maximise the success of control measures.

Think kit

Scrape, brush or knock soil and debris from your boots and clothing before leaving any site. Make a clean start each day. Clean and disinfect chainsaws and other cutting tools as part of routine maintenance. Clean machinery regularly to avoid spreading material to new areas.

Think trees

Source plants responsibly, monitor for signs of ill health, and report suspect trees to the Forestry Commission with Tree Alert.

Think transport

Brush or knock off any build-up of soil and debris on vehicles and machinery, including cabs and footwells, before leaving any site. Use proper off-site wash-down facilities regularly.

For higher risk situations…

Good biosecurity is always important, but there are cases where you might need to be more rigorous, such as when:

  • there’s a disease or pest present; or
  • there’s a Plant Health Notice in place.

In these cases, follow specialist guidance, or visit If you work with infected material:

  • keep it separate from other brash; and
  • do not use it for mulch, firewood or other forestry products.

Do not remove infected material from site unless you have a ‘movement licence’. Infected material without a licence should be kept separate from other wood products until it can be disposed of. Dispose of infected material by deep burial or incineration, either on site or at a licensed handling facility.

Key contacts and resources

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Tell us if you spot any ill health in trees:

Learn more from our e-learning package:

Forestry Commission
0300 067 4321
[email protected]
Institute of Chartered Foresters