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

 

  • Developing resistance to the disease in the native ash tree population
  • Encouraging landowner, citizen and industry engagement in surveillance, monitoring and action in tackling the problem

Defra said it is planting 250,000 ash saplings in the east and south east so Defra scientists and the Forestry Commission and local landowners can monitor the trees for signs of Chalara, paying particular attention to any signs of resistance.

http://www.trees.org.uk/aa/news/Defra-admits-impossible-to-eradicate-ash-dieback-148.html

Comment: It is crazy to spend all the money planting out nursery reared seedlings, when natural woodlands can do a much better job themselves for free, with woodland saplings benefiting from their ancient mycorrhizal support systems. See: http://worldwidewood.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/ashes-from-ashes-making-a-one-acre-natural-nursary/ (JW)

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

 

Ash dieback has been been found in a sapling on private land in Somerset, Defra has confirmed.

It has since been destroyed to prevent any contamination.

Defra said the infected sapling would have been carried in as part of a batch and planted, rather being infected with airborne spores.

Defra said it would be “very, very bad luck” for the disease to have spread in the short time it was in the county.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-20511539

The seedlings that were placed into the ground came from generations of backcross breeding that date to the early 1980s. Matt Brinckman, the American Chestnut Foundation’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Science Coordinator, said the project began by crossing an American chestnut with a Chinese chestnut, which is resistant to the blight. The hybrids that were in turn resistant to the blight were crossed again with American chestnut — and again and again until scientists obtained a crossbreed that was 15/16 American chestnut and only 1/16 Chinese chestnut.

The American Chestnut Cooperators’ Foundation was co-founded by Gary Griffin, a plant pathologist at Virginia Tech. Instead of crossbreeding, that group has focused on finding the few remaining large American chestnut trees that have demonstrated partial blight resistance.

“We try to interbreed those to obtain greater levels of blight control,” Griffin said. “There aren’t many of these specimens, but we’ve found them and have been working with them for more than 30 years.”

http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/317311

I find I am, to some extent, on a similar wavelength to Andy Byfield in his Guardian piece on tree planting.

But, I do remain a little more optimistic about the role that planting new native trees and woods can play. Tree planting is usually a very visible activity and one which can be used as a way of engaging and enthusing people about the natural environment, whilst the wider work of protecting our valuable ancient woods and the major programmes of restoring ancient woods that were damaged by conifer planting in recent times continues too, day in and day out.

I for one would be more than happy to see a strong welcome for the Panel’s recommendations on a major increase in woodland expansion being set clearly in the context of the Natural Environment White Paper.

http://wtcampaigns.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/re-thinking-tree-planting/

For decades and centuries – but particularly since the first world war and the formation of the Forestry Commission – ash woodland and individuals have been erased from the landscape, largely by modern forestry and agriculture, taking with them the associated culture and history, flora and fauna and much more. The loss of this welter of evidence is what our great woodland landscape historian, Dr Oliver Rackham, refers to when he talks of loss of meaning from the countryside. Such evidence often usually lost for good.

Of the diseased sites recently reported, 87 stands – nearly half the total – are either nursery sites or new plantings, so this time around, it seems that the finger of blame can be pointed more at conservationists and the horticultural trade than the forester.

I suspect that the blame lies firmly on the shoulders of conservation organisations and hobby foresters, planting new woods for amenity and environmental purposes. More often than not, trees are imported from the continent in generic broadleaved mixes, and planted as random, ill-thought-out patches across the countryside. Such plantings take no account of local landscape, or the natural composition of woodland in their locale, or indeed the likelihood of future colonisation by wild plants and animals. Such plantings are, in the words of one conservation chum, “mindless”, and merely results in “more dull woodland” (the words of another).

Such creation should aim to link and expand existing ancient semi-natural woodland blocks to maximise colonisation by wildlife and to facilitate sustainable management (bringing life-giving light into woodland that is so important to a wide diversity of woodland flowers, butterflies and much else). And above all, wherever possible, the jays and squirrels, and gravity and wind should be allowed to do the planting through natural regeneration. New woodlands would have so much more meaning than the lowest common denominator rubbish being planted at the present time.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2012/nov/23/ash-dieback-tree-planting

Our results from two Ash tree nurseries, using highly-genetically controlled techniques, show there is a large genetic variation between different clones. No clone is completely unaffected, but some have much higher resistance than the other. Therefore there seems to be good prospects for using traditional forest tree breeding to create a forest of reproductive material of ash that is less sensitive to Ash Die Back.

Given the high risk of ash regeneration killed by the fungus, ash should not be considered for planting today. In affected populations it is recommended that severely infected trees are cut away. They are obviously very susceptible to the disease and will then also be vulnerable in the future. If the problem of infection is likely to continue, it may be necessary to change to an alternate species. For example, the oak as an alternative for chippings and you can select alder in suitable wetter locations.

The next step is to focus on finding vital trees in heavily damaged stocks. The most vital trees will then be used in a new seed orchard in order to produce planting material with high resistance to ash die back.

http://saveourwoods.co.uk/articles/forestry-information/hope-for-the-threatened-ash-lars-goran-steiner-forestry-research-institute-of-sweden/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+saveourwoods+%28saveourwoods.co.uk%29

The government was at pains to underline the seriousness of the disease. “We will inevitably see a long term decline of the native ash. We must change the structure of our forests and introduce new species”, said Defra chief plant health officer Martin Ward.

 

A Defra spokeswoman told the Guardian: “The discovery of the disease in these counties does not mean the disease is spreading rapidly. It is likely that the disease has been present in these areas for a number of years, originally caused by spores blown in from mainland Europe.

Ward added: “If we had carried out the kind of research we would like to have done when the disease turned up in Europe it’s possible we could’ve come up with a solution. But that’s easy to say in hindsight.”

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/1671907/ash_dieback_number_of_affected_counties_doubles.html