The disease caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea causes leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees, and it can lead to tree death. It is a significant threat to one of our widespread native trees. Ash is the third most common broadleaf native tree species in Great Britain after oak and birch and is the predominant tree species in approximately 129,000 hectares of woodland in Britain. The fungus has caused widespread damage to ash tree populations in continental Europe and has the potential to kill millions of ash trees if it becomes widely established in Great Britain. The spread of this disease would pose a serious threat to associated biodiversity, including bats, and measures to prevent its spread are imperative. However, the potential for large-scale destruction of mature ash trees has raised concerns about the impact on roosting bats.
The current situation
The reported 50,000 trees already destroyed were all young transplants and nursery stock that were known or likely to be infected with C. fraxinea. Bats roost in mature ash trees and to date no mature trees were included in the destruction measures.
Immediate work is focussing on identifying the locations where this disease is present. Currently this is largely restricted to Norfolk and Suffolk.
What happens next?
- If the disease is found a containment notice will be issued to prevent plant material being moved off site.
- Whether further containment action is required, such as tree felling, will be determined once the extent of disease after the initial survey work has been determined. The fungus does not produce spores at this time of year so immediate action is not required.
- If it is decided that some felling action is required then a destruction notice will be placed on the site.
You can find out more about Ash dieback and the latest news from the Forestry Commission here http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara
We will keep the BCT website updated with further developments
VIDEO ON HOW TO DETECT ASH TREE DISEASE