Some very worrying news about the spread of the Ash Dieback disease in East Anglia today. Some excerpts from the article, plus additional links below.
Ministers have confirmed that 100,000 trees have been destroyed to try to prevent the spread of the deadly ash dieback disease. A ban on the import of ash trees came into force on Monday and an expert tree disease taskforce has been established.
The Chalara fraxinea fungus, which causes Chalara dieback - also known as ash dieback - has already killed 90% of ash trees in Denmark.
The disease was first spotted in the UK in February, at a nursery in Buckinghamshire, and was subsequently identified in other nurseries and newly planted areas.
But it has now been found in the wider countryside in East Anglia, sparking concerns the disease, which has the potential to devastate the UK's ash tree population, has spread to mature trees.
Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh accused the government of "dithering" over the summer. "Why did ministers sit back, cross their fingers and wait until the disease was found in the wild in June?" she asked. "After the forest sell-off fiasco, this incompetent government has been asleep on the job with ash dieback."
Experts say that if the disease becomes established, then ash dieback could have a similar impact on the landscape as Dutch elm disease had in the 1970s. This outbreak resulted in the death of most mature English elm by the 1980s. Elms have recovered to some extent but in some cases only through careful husbandry.
Visible symptoms of ash dieback include leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees and it can lead to tree death.
Experts are urging people to report suspected cases of dieback in order to prevent the spread of the disease to the wider environment becoming established.
An app, ASHTAG, has been launched to try and map the spread of the disease by allowing users to upload pictures and report possible sightings to a team who will pass any information to the Forestry Commission.