Citizen science

What is citizen science?

Simply put, citizen science is a term that is used to denote public engagement in scientific research. Citizens of a community are invited to learn and participate in scientific research projects.
The focus in this particular project is to call upon citizens to assist in locating diseased trees on the landscape and even to assist in independent data collection that can then be relayed to our genetics lab for further analysis.

Time is of the essence

By engaging in this Citizen Science platform we can increase the chances of discovering even more locations and instances of where these invasive tree pathogens have become established. The more people helping and the sooner they help, the better the chance will be for us to slow the spread of this disease to new, uninfected areas.

By participating in this Citizen Science initiative, you have the opportunity to:

  • Become a pathogen hunter and self-directed scientist! Gain research experience on your own accord.

  • Get involved in forest science, network with scientists.

  • Help protect Sweden’s forests from biological destruction!

  • Embrace your environmental responsibility of co-existing with nature!

Ultimately, this project gives Swedish citizens a chance to be an amateur scientist by participating and contributing to scientific research while also helping to protect important natural biodiversity.

Why care?

One important question you might ask yourself is “Why should I care?” and “Why should I do something about it?”

Well, let me ask you this instead: Do you enjoy nature? How about a walk in the park or nature reserve or being in the countryside embracing the beauty of Sweden’s natural landscapes? Would you do something to help preserve this beautiful nature, if you could?  

We here at the Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences (SLU Alnarp) are giving you the chance to!

Studying plant disease is essential to ensure sustainable food supply and to maintain the natural biodiversity of our natural and managed landscapes. As we know damage by forest pests and pathogens can be huge in forestry, agriculture and in gardens, causing economic loss and threaten biological diversity. Dead trees are also a hazard to people in natural areas with high public use for recreation.

Some examples of benefits that our forests provide are…

  • Water and air purification

  • Decomposition

  • Pollination

  • Erosion and flood control

  • Carbon storage

  • Climate regulation

  • Drinking water

  • Clean air

  • Timber

  • Fuel (wood, natural gas, oils)

  • Raw materials for production of many common household items

  • Medicine

  • Fertile soil for agricultural crop production

We depend on forests for our social and economic well-being. As nature lovers with an environmental conscious, we feel an obligation to be ‘”nature smart” and a necessity to protect these natural areas for future generations. This means protecting forests from invasive threats like Phytophthora pathogens, to run rampant in our forests, then we may not have any forests left to enjoy and use. The benefits of healthy trees to our environment are endless. Therefore, it is imperative to protect it!