Experts warn that most UK ash trees will be diseased within a decade

Over 100,000 trees have already been destroyed to try to prevent the spread of ash dieback, but experts now believe the disease could be far more widespread than initially thought.

Ian Boyd, Chief Scientist with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has warned ministers that the disease is likely to spread across the UK by around 20 miles a year, infecting most of the country’s 90m ash trees within a decade. Mr Boyd was speaking at a meeting of the Government’s crisis committee Cobra on Friday and warned them that trees cannot be vaccinated.

Ash trees infected with the Chalara fraxinea fungus that causes ash dieback were first detected in the UK in a nursery in Buckinghamshire eight months ago. It is now infesting trees in Scotland, East Anglia and possibly Kent. The disease was confirmed in the wild last week and the Government introduced a ban on ash seedlings from infected areas  from Monday.

The Woodland Trust has welcomed the ban and called on ministers to set up an emergency summit bringing together representatives from all areas of forestry, plant health and conservation to address the wider issues surrounding threats to our native trees and woods.

Meanwhile, the University of East Anglia has developed a mobile phone app for iPhone and Android which you can download  from  It will help you identify ash dieback and report any sitings you might find using your phone’s camera and GPS.

Most UK ash trees will be diseased within 10 years, ministers told | Environment | The Guardian.

6 responses to “Experts warn that most UK ash trees will be diseased within a decade

  1. I’m not going to ‘like’ this because that feels really inappropriate – I don’t like this at all! I’m really sad that this wasn’t caught sooner.

  2. I agree with theforagingphotographer but I did click ‘Like’ because I like it that you’re writing about this horror. We didn’t even get told about ash dieback until about five minutes ago, and now look 😦

    I’ve been writing about it on my own blog. The most interesting opinion I’ve seen is from Graham Rowe at the University of Derby (he suspects a tree genetic link) so I’ve written to him today.

  3. Yes, that does sound interesting. Have you had a reply from Graham Rowe yet?

  4. This is very discouraging – hopefully, a solution will be found soon. ~ Marsha

  5. Although this is in the UK an I am here in the US there is every probability that it could happen here. We are a global community anymore and with that comes the spread od disease; globally. I live near the Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive and we visit there quite a bit. Many years ago we had an influx of gypsy moths. The damage is still visible.

  6. I love Ash trees, they have a graceful form, very useful timber, and support a great number of insects and birds. The sudden loss of large swathes of Ash woodland will have a massive effect on eco systems and amenity value of woodland.
    I always try to look for some kind of silver lining in any situation, no matter how dire – in this case that could be a massive increase in scarce dead wood habitat, or a boost for understory vegetation providing a more varied habitat. Whenever there is sudden severe change, something suffers and something benefits.
    We understand very little about the relationship between fungi and trees, largely because of the difference in time scales between humans and trees. How do you study a cycle of millennea in any detail? It is widely believed that Elm trees were nearly wiped out from the UK about 600 years ago. Some survived and repopulated the UK only to be wiped out again by DED, however some Elms are resistant and are now being given a helping hand to re-establish themselves.

    There is so much to worry about with trees, bees and the environment in general, so lets search for and celebrate the amazing success stories out there and get kids and grown-ups interested with tales of wonder, happiness, and love of nature.

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