Ash germinates and grows as readily and quickly as any common or garden weed. But evidently it made business sense to take native ash seeds or seedlings overseas to be raised in commercial nurseries and to be brought back into the country as saplings.And it turns out we in the Woodland Trust were collaborating in this return of the native trees without realising it. With hindsight it is obvious we should have checked to see where every one of the thousands of trees we plant every year was coming from

Forty years ago the woodlands were recovering from the effects of Dutch elm disease, which brought down almost every English elm tree. Ash trees, 90% of which have been destroyed in Denmark, are doing only a little better. But if 10% are immune to this fungus, resistant strains can survive and in due course replace the many others that die.

Great stands of ash trees will be lost today, but they can grow back tomorrow. Anyone who plants trees knows they are really creating something for the future, not the present. Working to save ancient forests from destruction, whether from an invasive fungus or insensitive planning, is very much part of the Woodland Trust’s activities, but so too is planting for generations to come.

I only have an honorary position with the Woodland Trust, and I won’t call for my own resignation. In fact, in this time of crisis for our woods everyone connected with the trust or who has any interest in woods and woodlands should redouble their efforts on behalf of our trees. In the long run, our trees will long outlive us – touch wood.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/25/ash-dieback-clive-anderson-woodland-trust

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