Ash accounts for about 40 per cent of the trees in the wood, says Steve Collin, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust warden who first noticed the wasted, shrunken leaves on 13 September and, after a second check on 4 October, when he realised a great number of trees were affected, notified the Forestry Commission; by 17 October, chalara was confirmed.

Walking around the wood with him, looking at the wilted leaves and the lesions which are starting to appear on the bark of some of the infected trees, it is clear that nothing can be done; as Steve points out, any large-scale application of fungicide would destroy the wood’s ancient soil, as would the compacting by any heavy machinery brought in to take diseased trees out.

But perhaps we can be excused for mourning, not only the coming loss of its usefulness, but the loss of its beauty. Trees in general are emblems of sturdiness, of rugged robustness, but here is one which adds something else to our woodlands: a feeling of feminine grace. It is indeed not hard to love it, and not hard to lament the fact that the lady of the woods is now in dire distress, but there’s no knight in shining armour coming to relieve her.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/farewell-to-the-ash-trees-a-mournful-walk-in-the-woods-8301516.html

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