RESEARCHERS at the University of Worcester are blazing a trial in work to protect the UKs forests, woods and trees.

The university is among a group seven organisations chosen to take part in the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative, sharing £7 million of government funding to look at ways to tackle risk posed to the county’s plantlife by climate change, as well as new pests and diseases entering the country from abroad.

A team at the institution’s National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit (NPARU) led by Dr Rick Mumford of the Food and Environmental Research Agency will look at new ways to detect threats to trees earlier using £1.9 million of the funding.

The university’s deputy vice-chancellor professor Ros Foskett said she was delighted the department had been chosen to play a part in the research.

“The unit’s staff are highly experienced experts in this field and will play a vital role in this crucial research, which will help us to understand the biological threats to tree health,” she said.

Director of the NPARU Professor Roy Kennedy said the team at the department would look at ways of developing traps for capturing insects and DNA-detection approaches to identify pathogens.

“Early detection of new tree pathogens, such as ash dieback, is very important in minimising potential damage and preventing or stopping disease outbreaks,” said.

Other institutions involved in the study include Imperial College London, Swansea University and the University of Stirling.