d Psychology


To the Norse, it was the tree of life. Vikings called themselves, Aeslings, men of ash, believing that the first man was made from an ash tree. The universe, they believed, spins on an ash tree axis, Ygddrasil, the world tree, which has earth in its roots, and heaven in its canopy. Legend says that when the ash trees die, so will we. Little wonder therefore that when the ash dieback disease struck in Denmark, it caused deep fear about how much we have destabilised our life support systems on earth.

walkingwithpoets.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/ash-the-tree-of-life/

In Druid lore the ash is the world tree, which holds together this world (Abred), with the waters of the lower world (Annwn), the upper world (Gwynfyd) and infinity (Ceugant) beyond. The Celtic or Druidic magician Gwydion also bore an ash staff or wand.

In Norse mythology a great ash tree called Yggdrasil binds the world together. The name apparently means “Odin’s horse”, or even a gallows tree. There are many stories associated with it and it is full of various places and creatures. At the foot of the tree sit the three women known as Norns, who spin the destiny of men, like the Fates in Greek mythology.

While the basic “world tree” just links the above and below, Yggdrasil bound together not one world but nine, each a small pocket world. Perhaps like planets connected by wormholes.

http://squirrelbasket.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/ash-the-world-binding-tree/

a YouGov poll conducted for the Woodland Trust suggests.

Only 17 per cent recognised an ash leaf, despite the high profile of Chalara ash dieback, which experts have warned could be as devastating as Dutch elm disease. And 57 per cent could not identify an oak. Fewer than two-fifths (39 per cent) of young people could identify an oak and only one in 10 identified an ash. Older people did better: more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of over-55s identified an oak and almost a quarter (23 per cent) recognised an ash.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/save-the-ash-tree-half-of-us-cant-even-recognise-an-oak-8704037.html

 

Dutch elm disease is a tragic thing to watch, but we shouldn’t be too gloomy. Woody vegetation responds, adapts, regroups. What emerges in its recovery stage may not be the same as before, but it will always be a vital, dynamic, arboreal community.

The fungus, now known as Chalara fraxinea, is biologically mysterious, an entirely new organism of uncertain origins. It probably evolved in eastern Asia, where it appears to be harmless to native ash species. Its ancestor is a benign and widespread leaf fungus called Hymeno­scyphus albidus, native even in the UK. But at some recent date, this threw up a mutant, Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus, with slight genetic differences but a terrible virulence.

Natural resistance is likely to be the best hope for the survival of a core population of ashes in the UK. Isolated from the continent for nearly 8,000 years, our trees may be more genetically diverse than those in Poland.

For their part, ordinary rural people were mystified by the need for plantations, having lived for thousands of years with woods that renewed themselves spontaneously and indefinitely by seeding, or by regrowth from cut coppice stools and pollards. In place of this system of natural regeneration came the notion of trees as artefacts, biddable machines for the production of timber, programmed at every stage of their lives from planting to cutting.

The fundamental grammar of our relationship with them had been changed. Previously, “growing” had been an intransitive verb in the language of woods. Trees grew, and we, in a kind of subordinate clause, took things from them. In the forest-speak of the Enlightenment, “growing” became a transitive verb. We were the subject and trees the object. We were the cause of their existence in particular places on the earth.

Now, in the extremities of ash dieback, we can see that decades of well-intentioned planting have been not only often unnecessary, but, quite possibly, dangerous. Runtish saplings, often mislabelled and of unknown provenance, are shoved into the ground, regardless of whether they might be vectors for disease, or whether the soil is right and the site appropriate.

The existence of a large population of indigenous ashes is our best safeguard for the future and makes rather baffling the Forestry Commission’s experiment, initiated early in May, of planting out trial plots with 150,000 saplings of “15 different varieties”. The intention is to discover whether a few may be resistant and eventually propagate from them. But as 80 million ashes from probably ten times that number of genotypes are already engaged in just such an experiment across Britain, it is hard to see this as much more than a PR exercise – one that fits tidily in to our long, hubristic belief that the salvation of trees lies with us and our superior arboreal intelligence only.

http://www.newstatesman.com/sci-tech/2013/06/our-ash-trees-are-dying-dont-despair-catastrophes-are-natural-events-lives-trees

See also: http://worldwidewood.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/natural-ash-nursery-cleared-and-ready-for-the-deer-fence/

In East Sussex where I live I know of many places, usually abandoned fields, that have regenerated to secondary woodland surprisingly quickly and, judging by the size of the saplings I have seen in some televised tree planting schemes (maybe only from seed this year), regeneration may be almost as fast, if not faster than planting.  Though it does not do much for the tree nursery trade, or other human engagement with tree planting schemes.

I have long thought that we are failing to appreciate the diversity and complexity of wildlife if we compartmentalise the landscape too much: that is a wood, that is a heath, that is a field.

http://ramblingsofanaturalist.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/the-ash-dieback-debate-develops.html

this is why ash dieback breaks my heart: a sense that while they may be of little import to most of us on the surface, what we lose when they die runs deeper than we know. Many people – most, perhaps – couldn’t identify an ash; and I’ve heard some comment blithely that other trees will grow, it won’t matter, not in the long term. Do we need the old stories, long disproved, any more? And will a landscape without them, but richer in, say, sycamores, actually feel impoverished? They’re all just trees, after all.

It matters. Along with their unique physical presence in our landscape, along with the ecological benefits they bring as a major native species, there is a pool of myth and folklore and wisdom and learning at stake; a deep collective history that is our birthright and which, more than ever right now, can sustain us. Will the next generation even be able to call ash trees to mind – the shape their branches make in winter, the sticky black buds in spring, the sound their leaves make in a warm breeze, the feel of ash keys in the palm – as my parents could the elm?

http://www.nudgemenow.com/article/ashes-to-ashes/

Acute oak decline, which is thought to have first emerged less than 30 years ago, affects trees that are more than 50 years old. Half of oaks in some English woods are already infected.

Peter Goodwin, the co-founder of Surrey-based charity Woodland Heritage, warned that the disease was “far more serious” than ash dieback, which has captured headlines over fears that it will spread to most of the UK’s 92 million ash trees.

“The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are absolutely culpable in under-funding this problem, so my charity Woodland Heritage began raising money and has done some incredible things to bolster that team of scientists, and we are getting results now,” he told the East Anglian Daily Times.

Acute oak decline is likely to have a complex cause involving both a particular kind of beetle and various species of bacteria that have been found together in affected trees.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/countryside/9762106/Government-failed-to-fund-research-into-deadly-oak-disease.html

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