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/

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

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/

… when we stop and recall the bungled mess that has seen ash-dieback enter our island acres; when we hear the FC’s top expert suddenly warning of all the other diseases lining up to kill our trees – we begin to see that there aren’t really many folk out there standing up for trees.

The ones who are have their voices lost in a forest of other stories which overtake the headlines. Tree diseases are here today, gone tomorrow. Except they’re not. And something should be done.

http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/Trees-giants-landscape-need-careful-protection/story-17522321-detail/story.html

However, the loss of ash could have an even more profound impact on our local wildlife. Because of their loosely-branched structure and small leaves, ash trees allow plenty of light through to the woodland floor. This means that a variety of plants can grow beneath them, including some of our best-loved flowers. Can you imagine a spring walk without the heady smell of wild garlic and without the sight of dogs mercury, bluebells, wood crane’s-bill and wood avens?

http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/Countryside-change-ash-tree-disease/story-17326453-detail/story.html

To be sung to the tune of Max Boyce’s Hymns and Arias:

The disease they call ash die back, its sweeping through the land
Chalara said the Government, it needs no helping hand
So many trees are dying, its a disease we can’t control
That green and pleasant countryside thats deep inside our soul

But is disease for Politicians, should they stay away?
Their cock-ups and their arguments, ends up making us all pay
And they were singing Hymns and Arias,
Land of Chalara
Ar hyd y nos

http://biosecurityresearch.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/land-of-chalara.html

Deep in the forests of Poland, the tall trees suddenly vanish. A vast clearing opens up, a boggy landscape studded with the remains of dead ash trees. Half have been chopped to the stump, half are jagged like rotten teeth. The mystery fungus killed the leaves first, then moved into the stalk and down the trunk, cutting off the water supply and choking the tree. Then it rotted the roots.

By 2003, the fungus had moved into the older trees, some of which had been planted in the time of Stalin. Still the full horror of what was happening here was not revealed until one night in February 2007, when strong winds blew.

Prof Kowalski does not rule out the possibility that it was created by natural genetic mutation in the forests of Poland. However, a second theory is gaining more support in the scientific community.

“There are suggestions that Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus comes from Asia, where it lived on a different species of ash tree and caused no damage,” he says. “Then it came here, perhaps carried by the wind or by birds, or on clothes, and found the European ash more vulnerable.” Until the latest research is confirmed, he is not willing to say for sure. He does, though, think the row over imports in Britain is irrelevant now, or at least too late.

[He said] “Cooler temperatures in summer are better for some strains of the disease, so it is possible that the colder, wetter summer in Britain this year could have contributed to what is happening there. In most instances in Poland, we are finding that 15 to 20 per cent of trees do not die, and show no symptoms.”

“How many trees are at risk?” Eighty million. “Wow.” He looks shocked. “Has it been seen in the older trees?” It has. This experienced man of the forests puts his hand on his heart. “Then I am afraid it is over for you. It is too late. The game is over.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/poland/9669165/Ash-dieback-the-ruined-Polish-forest-where-deadly-fungus-began.html