The Social Amplification of Tree Health Risks: The Case of Ash Dieback Disease in the UK

  • Julie Urquhart
  • Julie Barnett
  • John Fellenor
  • John Mumford
  • Clive Potter
  • Christopher P. Quine


The risks posed by tree pests and diseases have been widely recognised in expert circles, but the degree to which this awareness is shared by publics and stakeholders is still unclear. There is a potential conflict between government attempts to manage the risks, media coverage and the ways in which publics and stakeholders make sense of the threats. The Social Amplification of Risk Framework (SARF) was adopted in this study as a means of exploring the interrelationships of media representation, expert assessments and public perceptions of the ash dieback outbreak in the UK. By exploring the dynamic interactions between these different actors and the social, psychological and cultural processes through which they determine risk, the study provides a more nuanced understanding of tree health risks that can inform risk communication strategies and outbreak management.



The research reported in this chapter was produced as part of the UNPICK (Understanding public risk in relation to tree health) project funded jointly by a grant from BBSRC, Defra, ESRC, the Forestry Commission, NERC and the Scottish Government, under the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative (Grant Number BB/L012308/1). It draws on material published in the peer-reviewed outputs of the project and a policy briefing (Potter et al. 2018).


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie Urquhart
    • 1
  • Julie Barnett
    • 2
  • John Fellenor
    • 2
  • John Mumford
    • 3
  • Clive Potter
    • 3
  • Christopher P. Quine
    • 4
  1. 1.Countryside & Community Research InstituteUniversity of Gloucestershire, Oxstalls CampusGloucesterUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of BathBathUK
  3. 3.Centre for Environmental PolicyImperial College London, South Kensington CampusLondonUK
  4. 4.Forest Research, Northern Research StationRoslinUK

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