The South East has been declared a “low priority” area – authorities say that because the disease is already widespread, it is not cost effective to tackle it.

Dr Alun Griffiths, microbiologist and chairman of the Kent Men of the Trees conservation charity, said the county needed better protection.

“I’ve been studying diseases around the world all my professional life,” he said.

“I’ve always thought that if you have a focus, an area where disease is being spread rapidly, that would be the place where you’d put most of your effort.

The government is planting thousands of young ash trees in the region as part of a research trial, including at the Hucking Estate near Maidstone.

Scientists hope 1% of them may survive and develop resistance in a decade’s time.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-22510873

 

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

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

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

“They’re just being starved,” site manager William Cranstoun says of the infected trees, which lose precious water to the attacking fungus. Saplings less than 8 years old are in danger of dying within months. “The thing that’s worrying is the rate that it happens,” Cranstoun says.

The government of Prime Minister David Cameron, which is implementing the deepest public spending cuts in a generation, has been accused of mounting a slow and fumbling response to the deadly incursion of Chalara fraxinea.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-britain-ash-trees-20121216,0,4749739.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fnews%2Fnationworld%2Fworld+%28L.A.+Times+-+World+News%29

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 former presenter of Gardener’s World said the horticultural trade warned of ash dieback in 2009, but nothing was done to stop imports of the species.

He said ministers’ advice to wash boots, dogs and children after visiting a woodland would have “minimal effect” when the disease is already widespread. “I think expecting people to wash their dogs, boots children after a woodland walk is like sticking a plaster on a broken leg.

“This is fungal-led and wind-borne. It is here now. It is a matter of watching and waiting. We need to cull where possible when we find it, monitor and look out for resistant strains. We also need more stringent rules on imports.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2012/dec/08/alan-titchmarsh-complete-muppet-tory

 

The report also recommended appointing a “tree tsar” to oversee national strategies against plant disease outbreaks, in the same way that the chief veterinary officer leads the response to outbreaks like bluetongue and foot and mouth.

Environmentalists said the plan focused too much on developing resistance to the disease and not enough on stopping it from spreading, and accused ministers of penny-pinching.

But Harry Cotterell, president of the Country Land and Business Association, said: “Mr Paterson is right not to rush into unnecessary expensive control measures before the chances of success have been properly evaluated.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/forests/9727478/British-landscape-being-surrendered-by-ash-dieback-failures.html

 

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

1. There is always a tremendous hurry and lack of adequate cash about grant aided planting which means trees are often imported

2. Inappropriate tree species are routinely introduced.

3. The groups of trees which are planted do not constitute woods. In particular, no-one bothers to establish an understory, which means they have less value for biodiversity than they should do. Demand for woodland bulbs is amazingly small and their purchase is never covered by woodland planting grants, for example.

4. This issue is compounded by planting densities being too high, which blocks out any light reaching the plants on the ground.

5. We sometimes establish these plantations, with limited ecological value, where more interesting habitat previously existed.

http://blog.habitataid.co.uk/when-tree-planting-sucks/