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 Ashtag.org. It will help you identify ash dieback and report any sitings you might find using your phone’s camera and GPS.