What is worrying is the apparent blindness of those who have been busy planting broadleaved trees by the square mile in the conviction that they are helping to regenerate Britain’s heritage of woodlands. No one is a more enthusiastic planter of amenity trees than the Woodland Trust whose aim is to “support, nurture and encourage native woodland and making them more robust in the fact of climate change and disease.” The Trust buys its trees from nurseries. It claims to always ask for trees of local provenance, evidently not knowing, and certainly not asking, about how exactly these trees have been nurtured. In fact, many – to judge from the official figures, most – seedlings of ash and other trees are exported to Holland and other European countries for growing on and are then imported back for planting out. This practice is widely known and condoned in the trade, and was certainly known about by Defra and the Forestry Commission. Yet the Woodland Trust admits they knew nothing about it. In their innocence they feel themselves victims (pardon me, but I’d say the ash trees are the victims here).

But can I suggest that, until we can guarantee that nursery trees are free from contagious and fatal diseases we simply stop planting trees?