Out walking the dog this morning, I thought I would look for how many ash trees I could spot along my usual route and imagine the impact on the landscape if they fell prey to ash dieback fungal disease or Chalara fraxinea to give it it’s proper name. Ash dieback, has been found across Europe since it was first identified in 1992 after a large number of ash trees in Poland were reported to have died. If it takes hold in the UK, it could have a devastating impact on our countryside as ash is our third most common species of broadleaf tree, and provides an important habitat for flora and fauna. It is quicker growing than oak. So over the short distance of my walk I spotted at least eight mature trees, and one that appeared dead, it looked as though it had been dead for some time, but how would I know if had ash dieback? What do the symptoms of ash dieback look like? Time to consult the Forestry Commission website. Helpfully they have a video showing the symptoms of Chalara fraxinea on young saplings, and a leaflet with photographs of the disease on mature trees, which I will consult in more detail. The government have been criticized for not acting quickly enough to ban imports of ash trees, as the Horticultural Trade Association raised this as a serious issue in 2009.
The government have been criticized for not acting quickly enough to ban imports of ash trees, as the Horticultural Trade Association raised this as a serious issue in 2009. This isn’t, of course, the only disease to threaten our native species Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum) was first recorded in the UK in 2003, and Natural England have a list of over 30 plant diseases of pests that may require intervention in order to protect England’s biodiversity. In September 2012 Natural England established a plant disease and pest prevention control scheme. Let’s hope it isn’t too late.