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Landowners have accused the Government of ignoring scientists’ efforts to develop a cure for ash dieback and instead relying on cheaper ‘management’ of the disease.

Sir Richard Storey, who owns 300 acres of mature ash trees on his Settrington Estate in Yorkshire, pointed out that Britain has far more ash trees than Continental Europe as it is more difficult to grow other species like beech and oak in the UK because of grey squirrels.

Harriet Tupper, Chairwoman of the International Dendrology Society, accused the Government agency in charge of tackling the disease, the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) of rejecting projects working on cures and antidotes.

“It is pessimistic not to try to find a cure/antidote. Over the centuries, scientists have discovered cures for many diseases, of humans, animals and plants. There is no reason why this cannot also happen for Chalara fraxinea. No antidote was found in Poland or Denmark, but of the trees in those countries, ash represented only a tiny fraction unlike the situation in the UK.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/9948411/Government-ash-dieback-management-plan-criticised-for-failing-to-stop-disease.html

The majority of forest volume in the UK is not publicly owned – out of a total forest area of 3 million hectares in the UK, only 28% is managed by the Forestry Commission. For ash, this figure is much lower, with only 3% of ash woodlands not owned by the private sector.

For private owners, the costs of surveying, felling, and replacing ash trees are likely to be high, and the effects of this could be long-lasting. An increase in the amount of timber in the market could also drive prices down, affecting landowners even further.

For landowners to engage in monitoring ash dieback, resources must also be available for them to do so. The number of inquiries sent to the Forestry Commission’s Tree Health Diagnostic and Advisory Service has increased by 1000% over the past six months. As diseased trees come into leaf over spring, and more trees become infected when the Chalara fungus sporulates again in summer, this high workload could even increase.

The number of tree diseases present in the UK has risen exponentially over the past 20 years, and now, almost all tree species are under threat from at least one disease or pest. Red band needle blight and ash dieback threaten up to 18% of woodland in the UK.

The report compiled by Confor highlights that the extent of private ownership of ash woodlands needs to be taken in to account.

http://britishecologicalsociety.org/blog/blog/2013/03/15/assessing-the-impacts-of-ash-dieback/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+EcologicalAndPolicyBlog+%28BES+Ecology+%26+Policy+Blog%29

Nurseries infected with the deadly fungus set to wipe out Britain’s 80m ash trees have been removed from the official map of the outbreak the Guardian can reveal, after nursery owners complained that being identified might hurt their business.

Officials said permitting anonymity encourages nursery owners to come forward and report infections, but critics say concealing the identity of infected nurseries means the public and scientists trying to fight the epidemic do not have the full facts.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/23/ash-dieback-infected-nurseries-map

Mr Gardiner said if importing low-quality woodchip from Poland, Belgium or Denmark where there is infection up to 80%, then “it is unlikely that you are going to get non-contaminated, low-grade woodchip”.

The risk was much higher than moving the fuel around the UK, where the infection rate was much lower by comparison.

Dr Steve Woodward, plant pathologist at Aberdeen University said, “There is the potential for young shoots that have been put into the admixture of chips and chipped up themselves to carry the infection so if the material was coming in the correct time of year which would be June to September and if that material was contaminated and should it be left lying around anywhere where it was of suitable humidity where it could produce the fruiting bodies then that’s when it presents the risk.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/countryside/9757345/Woodchip-imports-should-be-banned-to-stop-ash-dieback.html

Although there is no evidence of Chalara at the nursery, it has been banned from moving or selling the saplings as part of government action to prevent the spread of the disease.

A committee of MPs has now launched an inquiry to look at ash dieback and the way it has been handled.

Leader the inquiry, Anne McIntosh MP, told BBC Inside Out that Britain’s tree industry, which was importing saplings from Europe, needs to look at itself.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-20680983

The crisis in Britain’s ash forests came as a shock to public and politicians. But is it a vision of the future for our woodlands? Stressed by climate change and vulnerable to pests and diseases crossing the English Channel the prospects seem grim.

In a special edition of Costing the Earth Tom Heap asks what our forests will look like in the future. Is there anything we can do to stem the flow of disease, can our native trees be made more resilient or should we consider planting a wider range of trees? Tom visits Lithuania where ash dieback disease first came to attention in Europe to find out how they’ve come to terms with new threats to their forests and meets the experts and enthusiasts with a fresh approach to protecting our forests.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p9dcp

Clearly, the disease has been here for some time and more cases may be identified in the spring. This situation, with the knowledge of experience on the continent, makes Confor question how much resource can usefully go into controlling spread.

There is a real danger that an over-ambitious focus on reducing spread will take away resource from other vital areas of work, such as, putting in place a practical strategy for limiting the danger of future outbreaks and Forestry Commission resources for promoting forestry expansion and management.”

http://www.confor.org.uk/NewsAndEvents/News.aspx?pid=23&id=1370

 

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