New ways of working and thinking in relation to tree health and plant biosecurity are required. The climate is changing, and the number of pests and diseases is increasing. A review of the social science literature on plant health reveals that scholars are not quite sure what this ‘new thinking’ might entail. This chapter begins the process of reimagining tree health by starting with the trees and our research engagement with them. Trees are acknowledged in this chapter as never static, but rather fluid, shape-shifters, translated across time and space. Health and disease are revealed as relational, and a fixed approach to tree health management won’t work. In a world of rapid change, this way of working is not just relevant for trees.

This chapter is featured in the book The Human Dimensions of Forest and Tree Health which explores the specifically human dimensions of the problem posed by a new generation of invasive pests and pathogens to tree health worldwide. The growth in global trade and transportation in recent decades, along with climate change, is allowing invasive pests and pathogens to establish in new environments, with profound consequences for the ecosystem services provided by trees and forests, and impacts on human wellbeing. The central theme of the book is to consider the role that social science can play in better understanding the social, economic and environmental impacts of such tree disease and pest outbreaks.

In conversation with oak trees. Video: SEI / YouTube.