There is a small hope that unique British races of the species—isolated from continental Europe 8,500 years ago—may prove unusually resistant to the blight.

During the 19th century, as global trade increased exponentially, so did the incidence of tree blights. In the early 20th century, after rich countries instituted biosecurity regimes, the growth rates slowed, and in America, at least until recently, remained fairly linear. But in Europe, around 1960, the infection rate picked up, very likely due to the trade-boosting effect of economic integration. This not only spread diseases around the continent itself. It also made the law-abiding countries of northern Europe, such as Britain, susceptible to the sloppier customs regimes of the continent’s southern fringe.

http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21580459-arboreal-confirmation-britain-european-country-european-problems-unquiet-woods?fsrc=rss|btn

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Ancient woodlands covering an area larger than 12,700 football pitches are threatened with destruction to make way for new building developments and the controversial high-speed rail link.

Analysis by the Woodland Trust has revealed that at least 350 woods, which have all been a feature of the landscape for more than 400 years, could be lost or permanently damaged under plans to build housing, roads, quarries and the £33 billion rail route.

The scale of the threat, which the group says is the greatest in the 15 years since ­it began recording ancient woodlands at risk,

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/greenpolitics/planning/9919768/Our-ancient-woodlands-that-could-be-lost-to-the-bulldozer.html

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

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

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

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/