November 2012


Their loss would be grim, not just for the lover of the landscape, who would miss their beauty and the way they help the observer to “read” the view and get his bearings on a country walk.

The farmers, for whom the ash is an important component of many stock-proof hedges, would certainly miss them.

They would be missed by the naturalist, too, who would regret the loss of the haven they provide to birds and insects.

Even the gamekeeper, who makes use of stands of ash in pheasant coverts, where they provide cover and roosting spots for the game, would mourn their passing,

http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/Plenty-reasons-mourn-loss-ash-trees-dreaded/story-17425224-detail/story.html

Minister of State Shane McEntee has met IFA leaders to brief them on the legal measures he has introduced, in cooperation with authorities in the North, to prevent the spread of Ash Dieback disease.

While the Government has a no-compensation policy for those affected, he has assured land owners that it will not stop direct payments to farmers affected by control measures. Reforestation of removed trees will be grant-aided.

“This could be catastrophic, but we must remain cool and calm, and be ruthless in dealing with it and work together,” Mr McEntee said when he addressed the Seanad on the disease threat this week.

http://www.irishexaminer.com/business/minister-outlines-legal-moves-to-halt-catastrophic-spread-of-ash-dieback-214895.html

we welcome government action to determine the extent of ash dieback disease and to contain its spread.

We believe this disaster for nature and our landscapes should be a wake-up call for the Government to show a much stronger commitment to tackling tree diseases in general.

We urge the Government to consider drawing on the Contingencies Fund to tackle these threats rather than raiding other already depleted Defra budgets for nature conservation and access.

http://cpreviewpoint.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/tree-diseases-cpre-letter-in-the-times/

Ash germinates and grows as readily and quickly as any common or garden weed. But evidently it made business sense to take native ash seeds or seedlings overseas to be raised in commercial nurseries and to be brought back into the country as saplings.And it turns out we in the Woodland Trust were collaborating in this return of the native trees without realising it. With hindsight it is obvious we should have checked to see where every one of the thousands of trees we plant every year was coming from

Forty years ago the woodlands were recovering from the effects of Dutch elm disease, which brought down almost every English elm tree. Ash trees, 90% of which have been destroyed in Denmark, are doing only a little better. But if 10% are immune to this fungus, resistant strains can survive and in due course replace the many others that die.

Great stands of ash trees will be lost today, but they can grow back tomorrow. Anyone who plants trees knows they are really creating something for the future, not the present. Working to save ancient forests from destruction, whether from an invasive fungus or insensitive planning, is very much part of the Woodland Trust’s activities, but so too is planting for generations to come.

I only have an honorary position with the Woodland Trust, and I won’t call for my own resignation. In fact, in this time of crisis for our woods everyone connected with the trust or who has any interest in woods and woodlands should redouble their efforts on behalf of our trees. In the long run, our trees will long outlive us – touch wood.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/25/ash-dieback-clive-anderson-woodland-trust

I find I am, to some extent, on a similar wavelength to Andy Byfield in his Guardian piece on tree planting.

But, I do remain a little more optimistic about the role that planting new native trees and woods can play. Tree planting is usually a very visible activity and one which can be used as a way of engaging and enthusing people about the natural environment, whilst the wider work of protecting our valuable ancient woods and the major programmes of restoring ancient woods that were damaged by conifer planting in recent times continues too, day in and day out.

I for one would be more than happy to see a strong welcome for the Panel’s recommendations on a major increase in woodland expansion being set clearly in the context of the Natural Environment White Paper.

http://wtcampaigns.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/re-thinking-tree-planting/

For decades and centuries – but particularly since the first world war and the formation of the Forestry Commission – ash woodland and individuals have been erased from the landscape, largely by modern forestry and agriculture, taking with them the associated culture and history, flora and fauna and much more. The loss of this welter of evidence is what our great woodland landscape historian, Dr Oliver Rackham, refers to when he talks of loss of meaning from the countryside. Such evidence often usually lost for good.

Of the diseased sites recently reported, 87 stands – nearly half the total – are either nursery sites or new plantings, so this time around, it seems that the finger of blame can be pointed more at conservationists and the horticultural trade than the forester.

I suspect that the blame lies firmly on the shoulders of conservation organisations and hobby foresters, planting new woods for amenity and environmental purposes. More often than not, trees are imported from the continent in generic broadleaved mixes, and planted as random, ill-thought-out patches across the countryside. Such plantings take no account of local landscape, or the natural composition of woodland in their locale, or indeed the likelihood of future colonisation by wild plants and animals. Such plantings are, in the words of one conservation chum, “mindless”, and merely results in “more dull woodland” (the words of another).

Such creation should aim to link and expand existing ancient semi-natural woodland blocks to maximise colonisation by wildlife and to facilitate sustainable management (bringing life-giving light into woodland that is so important to a wide diversity of woodland flowers, butterflies and much else). And above all, wherever possible, the jays and squirrels, and gravity and wind should be allowed to do the planting through natural regeneration. New woodlands would have so much more meaning than the lowest common denominator rubbish being planted at the present time.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2012/nov/23/ash-dieback-tree-planting

“We welcome the Government’s initial plans to deal with the immediate consequences of ash dieback and are reassured that our voice was heard at the Emergency Summit.

We support Defra’s response advising that no mature ash trees should currently be felled. This underlines widespread concerns that rapid and ill-considered action in our mature and ancient woods could do more harm than good. We do not want to remove small populations of resistant ash that may hold the key to the survival of the species

1. We have a joint £2m project with the National Trust, Forest Research and the Food and Environment Research Agency bringing scientists and the public together to monitor and protect the UK’s trees and woods. The project is ready to go.

2. We will begin long-term investment in UK nurseries to ensure every tree we plant is UK-sourced and grown, removing all risk of importing further disease.

3. We will host a major conference to discuss knowledge, issues and impact of ash disease and wider tree health risks on conservation.

http://treedisease.co.uk/2012/11/09/woodland-trust-reaction-publication-of-governments-action-plan-on-ash-dieback/

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