UK & World News
Ash Tree Disease Threatens UK Countryside
A deadly disease which has devastated ash trees in Europe has been discovered in the English countryside, raising fears it could wreak the same kind of damage as Dutch elm disease in the 1970s.
The Woodland Trust has confirmed that the first British cases of ash dieback, which is caused by a fungus, have been identified on its estate at Pound Farm in Suffolk and at Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Lower Wood reserve at Ashwellthorpe.
The Chalara fraxinea fungus causes leaf loss and crown dieback and can lead to tree death. It has already wiped out 90% of ash trees in Denmark in seven years and is becoming widespread throughout central Europe.
The Trust is supporting a ban on importing and moving ash trees to stop the disease from spreading in the UK, which the Government is poised to bring in as early as next week.
Andrew Sharkey, head of woodland management for the Trust, said losing ash trees would have serious implications for wildlife and the countryside.
Forestry Commission staff have been redeployed from their usual duties to survey woods and forests in East Anglia and across Britain, and forest managers and tree professionals are being urged to inspect trees and report any suspected to be infected.
Dr John Morgan, head of the body's plant health service, said efforts to tackle the disease were a priority.
"It is still early days and investigations are continuing," he said. "But there is a possibility that the East Anglia outbreak is an isolated one which has been present for some time. This emphasises the importance of preventing spread further afield."
The Horticultural Trades Association has also urged members to abide by a voluntary moratorium on importing ash trees for planting in the country.
Ash trees make up around 30% of the UK's wooded landscape.
what do you think?
I remember how bad Dutch Elm disease was back in the 1970's. . . Chalara fraxinea could be as bad for our beautifull ancient woodlands and parks. No doubt the farmers and politicians will blame the badger to prop up their dubious reasons for a cull.
Windows Live User
I thought elm disease hit Britain in the late 1920's A second stronger strain hit in the 60's, which came from America Am I wrong?