A leading Westcountry nurseryman who yesterday burned 7,000 ash saplings in a bid to help keep ash-dieback disease out of the region

Mr Davey says nurseries had only been growing what the customer demanded. “We supply a cheap product because that’s what the customer wants,” he said.

“The problem is that ash propagates freely, but not on demand – and this is where the technical side of producing the crop comes in,” said Mr Davey. “If our customers are planting under a grant scheme they usually need to do so over a limited time. This means they can’t wait for trees to be produced with a local provenance – so they buy plants from wherever they can.”

“I want to raise the debate above just blaming people – no one is really to blame for ash-dieback but people need to be more aware of the woodland we have and stop taking trees for granted,” he said