We have relied on the strength and flexibility of their wood for centuries, but it is feared that without the move, our ash may not be able to withstand the disease, Chalara ash dieback, which has decimated forests on the continent and has recently been confirmed in British trees for the first time.

Today, the government made moves to ban ash imports and impose restrictions on ash movements within Britain.

Now experts fear that its presence in mature British trees with no connection to the imports indicates it could be spreading among our native ash. The disease was confirmed in a 100 hectare wood owned by the Woodland Trust in Suffolk, and on another site in Norfolk.