Landowners in England will be paid to remove young ash trees and replace them with other species to help slow the spread of the disease killing them, the environment secretary said on Tuesday.

Paterson said: “We know we can’t stop Chalara fraxinea infecting our ash trees, so we have to throw our resources into managing it and slowing the spread. A key part of that strategy will be identifying those trees which have a natural resistance to the disease so that we can restock our woodlands in the future.”

The amount the government will spend on replacing young trees will depend on demand, said a spokeswoman. Landowners will be paid to remove recently planted ash from high priority areas – a band running from Cornwall and Devon and then north through Gloucester and up to the Midlands – and replace the trees with other species.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/mar/26/ash-dieback-landowners-restock-woodlands

The government is to plant a quarter of a million ash trees in an attempt to find strains that are resistant to the fungus responsible for ash dieback.

The £1.5m project is part of the long term management plan, unveiled by the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.

Funding will also be made available to woodland owners to help them remove infected ash saplings.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21937163

 

“We won’t be able to solve the whole problem in the life of this collaboration. However, we aim to use new technologies to help tree breeders select the best trees to cross-fertilise. We hope to generate the knowledge needed to understand why this fungus has become such a problem. That knowledge will catalyse further research around the world.”

It will be the first time that some advanced genetic techniques such as ‘associative transcriptomics’ are used in trees. This is where the expressed genes of plant varieties are compared to identify markers for traits. These can be used to speed up marker assisted breeding.

The scientists will focus part of their ash research on ‘Tree 35’, a tree in Denmark that has stayed healthy during the epidemic that has damaged most ash trees in the country. By mapping the genomes of ‘Tree 35’ and other trees with low susceptibility, they will be able to establish the genetic basis of resistance.

Ash is highly variable because mother trees can have multiple partners. If, within this variation, different types of ash show some resistance, the scientists will be able to recommend building stronger resistance based on multiple crosses. Different crosses for different environments will also need to be suggested, to breed resistant trees adapted to specific conditions.

http://news.jic.ac.uk/2013/03/major-cash-for-ash/

Forest Research’s principal pathologist, Dr Joan Webber is a key player in a new consortium of researchers awarded £2.4M of fast-track research funding from BBSRC and DEFRA for a two-year project to gather an in-depth understanding of the ash dieback fungus and provide genetic clues about some ash trees’ natural resistance to attack. Computer models will also be built to develop monitoring plans of the distribution and spread of the fungus as well as chart how the disease might progress. This knowledge will help to fight the fungus and replace lost trees with those able to survive.

The Nornex consortium (named for the three Norns who tend the ash tree of life Yggdrasil in Norse mythology) brings together tree health and forestry specialists with scientists working with state-of-the-art genetic sequencing, biological data and imaging technologies to investigate the molecular and cellular basis of interactions between the fungus and ash trees. Data from the project will be uploaded to an open-access website. This crowd-sourced, data-sharing approach will share the genetic data to exploit the expertise of plant and fungal research communities internationally.

http://www.forestry.gov.uk/website/forestresearch.nsf/byunique/INFD-95LFXJ

The majority of forest volume in the UK is not publicly owned – out of a total forest area of 3 million hectares in the UK, only 28% is managed by the Forestry Commission. For ash, this figure is much lower, with only 3% of ash woodlands not owned by the private sector.

For private owners, the costs of surveying, felling, and replacing ash trees are likely to be high, and the effects of this could be long-lasting. An increase in the amount of timber in the market could also drive prices down, affecting landowners even further.

For landowners to engage in monitoring ash dieback, resources must also be available for them to do so. The number of inquiries sent to the Forestry Commission’s Tree Health Diagnostic and Advisory Service has increased by 1000% over the past six months. As diseased trees come into leaf over spring, and more trees become infected when the Chalara fungus sporulates again in summer, this high workload could even increase.

The number of tree diseases present in the UK has risen exponentially over the past 20 years, and now, almost all tree species are under threat from at least one disease or pest. Red band needle blight and ash dieback threaten up to 18% of woodland in the UK.

The report compiled by Confor highlights that the extent of private ownership of ash woodlands needs to be taken in to account.

http://britishecologicalsociety.org/blog/blog/2013/03/15/assessing-the-impacts-of-ash-dieback/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+EcologicalAndPolicyBlog+%28BES+Ecology+%26+Policy+Blog%29

The fast-track research funding has been awarded to gather an in-depth understanding of the ash dieback fungus and to provide genetic clues about some ash trees’ natural resistance to attack. Computer models will also be built to develop monitoring plans for the distribution and spread of the fungus, as well as charting how the disease might progress. This knowledge will help to fight the fungus and replace lost trees with those more able to survive.

Professor Sarah Gurr from Biosciences is leading the University of Exeter group in the Nornex consortium that has been awarded the funding. The group includes Prof Murray Grant, Dr Chris Thornton, Dr David Studholme, Professor Gero Steinberg and Professor Nick Talbot. The consortium brings together tree health and forestry specialists with scientists working with state-of-the-art genetic sequencing, biological data and imaging technologies to investigate the molecular and cellular basis of interactions between the fungus and ash trees.

Led by Professor Allan Downie at the John Innes Centre (JIC), the consortium includes: the University of Exeter, The Sainsbury Laboratory, East Malling Research, The Genepool at the University of Edinburgh, The Genome Analysis Centre, the Food and Environment Research Agency, Forest Research, the University of Copenhagen and the Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute. The research will also complement a project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) at Queen Mary University of London to decipher the ash tree’s genetic code.

BBSRC Chief Executive Professor Douglas Kell said: “This agile funding response will ensure we improve our understanding of this devastating tree disease as quickly as possible. Little is known about the fungus, why it is so aggressive, or its interactions with the trees that it attacks. This prevents effective control strategies

Researchers have developed a low-cost solution that could control the fungal disease that is threatening the UK’s 80 million ash trees. Initial tests are being carried out at Imperial College London’s Silwood Park Campus in Berkshire and will continue in Spring 2013.

The product is called CuPC33 — a solution of copper sulphate and other minerals. Copper has long been used to treat fungal diseases in homes and gardens and a number of copper-based products are safety approved for use by health authorities in the UK. Laboratory trials show that the product is highly effective at controlling fungi that cause tree diseases, and greenhouse trials carried out at the Silwood Park Campus show the product does not harm the trees, either when injected or sprayed onto them.

The scientists say that CuPC33 could be dispersed through infected woodlands by spraying or as a dense medicated mist that lands on leaves and branches. Using technology that atomizes the liquid into very tiny droplets, they anticipate ten litres of diluted CuPC33 is sufficient to treat one hectare of forest at a material cost of less than 60p per litre. The cost of manpower and machines would represent the bulk.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121107122600.htm

 

Clearly, the disease has been here for some time and more cases may be identified in the spring. This situation, with the knowledge of experience on the continent, makes Confor question how much resource can usefully go into controlling spread.

There is a real danger that an over-ambitious focus on reducing spread will take away resource from other vital areas of work, such as, putting in place a practical strategy for limiting the danger of future outbreaks and Forestry Commission resources for promoting forestry expansion and management.”

http://www.confor.org.uk/NewsAndEvents/News.aspx?pid=23&id=1370

 

The UK’s control plan is based on four measures – “reduce, develop, encourage and adapt”, said Prof Ian Boyd, chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). He said the aim was to reduce the spread of Chalara, develop new control measures and resistant varieties, encourage the public and industry to help out and adapt the nation’s forests to the inevitable changes.

However, Paterson said the current policy of tracing and destroying young infected trees – which has seen more than 100,000 trees removed – was “unlikely to be sustainable in the longer term and there may be benefits from a more targeted approach.” Boyd said control measures had to be “proportional” to ensure trade could continue and deliver “economic uplift” but said what a more targeted approach might be was yet to be determined.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/06/ash-dieback-infection-sites-double

 

Ash tree growers across the country are counting the cost of Ash Dieback after a survey estimated that the fungal disease could cost the industry £2.5 million.

95% of businesses state that the current situation will have a negative effect on their business

·         58% predict cash flow problems over the winter period

·         87% expect reduced business profitability.

·         13% of nurseries have already destroyed ash stock in response to the disease (either due to destruction notice or market failure)

·         8% of those surveyed believe they may go out of business without financial support.

There is an estimated £2.5million worth of ash trees held currently on UK nurseries with the majority being 1-2 year old seedlings, although the total market value is spread quite evenly across all tree sizes.

The HTA estimate that nearly 1.5 million ash trees have been imported by the nursery trade over the last 12 months and nearly 4 million since January 2009.

http://www.the-hta.org.uk/page.php?pageid=1025