Nonetheless, given that most people in the UK could not identify an ash tree, I do wonder why we care so much. It is not about ash per se – it is about woodland more generally and seems to transcend politics:

Bizarrely, this passionate concern is accompanied by an almost wilful ignorance. The historian David Dymond has described it as “hunger for false information”:

This devotion to what Oliver Rackham calls “pseudo-history” and “a triumph of unreason” baffles scholars, but I do not think it should. It seems to me that the forests we are in love with are forests of the imagination, where Robin Hood leads a band of merry outlaws and where lost children find gingerbread houses and make their fortunes. Interest in and passion for ancient woodland have grown enormously since the 1970s, while the number of people who actually go out and walk in woods has radically declined.

If we want woodlands to flourish, we have to bring that buried awareness to the surface and back it up with better information. For a start, identify your nearest ash tree and keep an eye on it next summer.