Rarely have trees made such headlines, normally in the limelight because cute little kittens have got stuck in them or protesters are chained to them. This time though the Ash trees have a headline all to themselves.
Our trees are facing the biggest natural problem since the spread of Dutch Elm Disease. Ash dieback is responsible for the burning of over 100,000 trees and there are new cases being found everyday, further and further away from the initial infected area; with cases now confirmed in Leicester, County Durham and Knockmountains near Glasgow.
Chalara dieback or more commonly known as Ash dieback is the fungal disease sweeping the forests of East Anglia. It causes the Ash trees to bleed through sores and discolour the sapwood beneath the bark. The sores often surround the branches causing dieback in the infected area of shoots, twigs, branches and smaller stems. Once a tree has been identified as infected there is no way to rid the fungus from the tree and therefore the tree must be burnt
It was initially thought the disease was brought to the UK by wind, however with the large geographic spread of the disease now being realised, it is thought that wind dispersal is only one of the ways the disease has spread. Humans and recreation are now thought to be posing the biggest risk to the spread of this disease.
Current mitigation methods include
- Ban on all imports of ash trees
- Ban on movement of ash seeds and trees, including firewood within the UK
- Wash any items that have come into contact with leaf litter including children and dogs
- Using the ashtag app to report potential cases to the forestry commission
This saga shows no sign of stopping anytime soon but if you do see any signs dont forget to let the local wildlife trust or forestry commission know then we can combat the spread, before it ruins the homes and habitats of many of our favourite animals at an already testing time of year.