The government chief scientist Professor Sir John Beddington has been updated on key work to protect UK forests from pests and diseases.

Professor Beddington learnt about the work when he visited Forest Research’s Alice Holt lodge research station in Surrey.

He attended a briefing on the current status of threats from tree pests and diseases, focusing on acute oak decline and phytophthora ramorum, both of which are causing concern in the forestry sector. Hundreds of hectares of phytophthora ramorum-infected Japanese larch trees are currently being felled in the south-west to help prevent the spread of the disease.

“The current threats from climate change and tree pests and diseases mean it is more important than ever that British forestry is underpinned by a sound scientific base,” said Professor Peter Freer-Smith, the Forestry Commission’s chief scientist.

“These threats apply equally to trees being grown for timber or to conserve nature.”

Professor Beddington also saw work being conducted on climate change and carbon fluxes within the forest.