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Two trade bodies, the Horticultural Trades Association and the Confederation of Forest Industries, warned the Commission of the potential threat of fungal disease in 2009.

But despite this 70,400 trees were brought in from abroad and now ash dieback- or chalara fraxinea – is now threatening to wipe out 80 million trees in Britain.

The infected Forestry Commission sites include Thetford Forest, in Norfolk, one of the biggest lowland forests in England with more than 19,000 hectares of woodland.

Also affected are Rendlesham Wood, a 1,500 hectare forest in Suffolk; Theberton Wood, a 25 hectare patch of woodland in Suffolk; Eggringe Wood, which forms part of a stretch of woodland on the Kent Downs covering 1,598 hectares; and the 400 hectare Elham Park Wood in east Kent.

The Forestry Commission also had to destroy 50,000 saplings at Dalbeatie Forest in Dumfries and Galloway after they were found to be infected.

It is understood the 70,000 imported ash trees represented 4.2 per cent of the total planted.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/9769588/Forestry-Commission-planted-70000-imported-ash-trees-despite-warnings.html

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

Action against the deadly fungus threatening the UK’s ash trees was delayed by a lack of qualified plant pathologists, MPs were told on Tuesday. Government scientists being questioned by parliament’s environment committee also said border controls against the rising number of invasive plant pests were not working, while committee chair Anne McIntosh said it was “staggering” that the amount of imported firewood – a potential infection risk – was unknown.

The Forestry Commission recommended in July 2011 that ash trees should only be imported from areas free of the Chalara fraxinea fungus, but an import ban was only imposed in October 2012. At least 136 of the 291 infected sites now identified in the UK resulted from imported trees.

In November, Prof James Brown, president of the British Society of Plant Pathology, told the Guardian the job losses in plant science were “severe”. He said: “Britain is not producing graduates with the expertise needed to identify and control plant diseases in our farms and woodlands.”

a key measure put forward in the action plan – developing strains of ash trees that are naturally resistant to Chalara – would take 10 years or more to bear fruit.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/11/ash-dieback-plant-scientists-environment-committee

Oliver Rackham was recently bemoaning the UK’s approach to woodland expansion being so dominated by tree planting, rather than natural regeneration. Not only are the resulting plantations artificial, but the whole process has encouraged the seedling trade across borders that is being blamed for ash dieback disease’s introduction to Britain.

One of the main reasons new woods are planted rather than regrown naturally is because we have such unnaturally high levels of herbivores. Young trees can only get away if they’re grown behind fences to protect them from teeth and the high costs of fencing and our current system of forestry grants has led to an urgency to get trees established in order to be able to claim grants quickly and recoup the outlay on fences.

So, is it time to think about returning some of our native carnivores, to keep the bunnies and deer under control, and reassert a bit of natural balance in our shattered and fragile ecosystems?

http://cybercrofter.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/is-it-time-to-bring-back-bears.html

The disease has swept Europe and should never have been allowed to arrive here on imported trees. Along with the government, nurseries, land managers and other organisations, we must hold up our hands. We should have investigated our supply chain more thoroughly, uncovered this threat and worked hard to challenge it. We are determined to ensure this will never happen again.

http://treedisease.co.uk/what-we-are-doing/

 

“Our collective knowledge of this disease is limited, and it is good to see a workshop on research priorities is being proposed, but we are concerned that this is entirely focused on breeding resistance rather than on techniques that could reduce the rate of spread.

“The Action Plan refers repeatedly to the cost of any intervention now, but makes very little reference to the costs that farmers, woodland owners, local authorities, gardeners and the Government itself will face as this disease spreads across the country.

“These costs include making safe dying trees, replanting lost trees and loss in value of ash timber. This will account for tens of millions of pounds over the next decade.

Completing the task of tracing and destroying all infected ash trees planted across the country in the last five years
• Leading a more intensive survey of the core infected area so we know more about the extent of these infections, and how it is spreading
• Commissioning – and funding in full – a range of research into this disease, including into ways of reducing spore spread and increasing the resistance of existing trees.

http://ntpressoffice.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/too-little-too-late-in-governments-ash-dieback-plans-says-national-trust/

A deadly tree fungus has been detected in Cornwall for the first time as the number of infected sites nationwide doubled in the past month to almost 300.

The confirmed case of ash dieback was found in a recently-planted site near Camborne, the Forestry Commission has revealed.

A handful of fresh cases had been identified as part of last month’s audit, all of them in new plantings.

However, David Rickwood, site manager for the Woodland Trust in Devon, claimed this was the result of a huge audit rather than evidence that the disease was spreading in the countryside, adding that prevailing westerly winds might help prevent stem its rapid movement in the wild.

Brian Beasley, the national park’s trees and landscape officer, told an authority meeting on Friday that an infected site had been confirmed in a newly-planted woodland owned by the Woodland Trust, to the west of Exeter and near Dartmoor’s eastern boundary.

He also warned that lichens of national and international importance which live in ash bark in places such as Buckland-in-the-Moor, are at risk.

Chalara fraxinea has now been found at 136 sites linked to imported plants and a further 155 sites in the wider environment.

The measures were criticised by the National Trust as “limited and weak”, too focused on minimising costs.

“We are alarmed to see the government is even wavering about continuing its programme of tracing, testing and destroying infected young ash trees.

http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/Warning-Dieback-tree-disease-spreads-Cornwall/story-17546244-detail/story.html

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