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

The best case scenario is to be able to save the most valuable trees, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The department wrote to a company which had proposed a general treatment and confirmed that they had “serious doubts” it would work in woodland, according to The Times.

But the fungicides could help save trees of special conservational value, or young trees still in nurseries. 352 sites across Britain are infected with ash dieback.

The recent cold snap has stopped the spread but it is expected to resume in the spring when the in the spring when the Government will announce it’s plans to deal with the disease.

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

 

Vaikunthanath Das Kaviraj (Kav for short) is a Homeopath who has been leading developments in our knowledge and understanding of the homeopathic treatment of plants. In his book, “Homeopathy for Farm and Garden: toward a homeopathic agriculture” he has identified several remedies that can treat Die-Back in trees, notably Silicea (also known as Silica). This is a remedy made from flint, and I have taken parts of the description of this remedy straight from this book.

I have absolutely no experience of using Silicea for Ash Die-Back but it seems, from what Kav, is saying here, is something the Government, the Forestry Commission, and the various Environmental Charities who manage woodland, and tree nurseries, should be examining seriously. It is certainly a much less destructive treatment. And if we can prove its value, perhaps initially in small pockets, it is something well worth considering.

We are now also seeing the emergence of some most bizarre ideas for a “cure”. Recent news reports suggests that “scientists” have come up with a “cure” and it is only “red tape” that is holding things up. This cure is the aerial spraying of a solution of copper sulphate and nutrients, presented as a modern answer that just requires fast-tracking through trials.

On the contrary, the use of copper sulphate as an anti fungal agent is centuries old – throwing it out of an aeroplane does not make it a new cure and goodness knows what any “trial” might show that we don’t already know! This is a highly damaging broad-spectrum fungus-killer. It will kill a wide range of fungi, could well persist in the soil and might fundamentally damage woodland ecosystems. Our under-rated fungi are the engines of woodland ecology. They recycle all the nutrients, form soil and enable plants to grow. Without them our environment would simply not work.

Environmental company Natural Ecology Mitigation is working on the solution with the Forestry Commission’s Forest Research unit, the International Pesticide Application Research Consortium (IPARC) and Imperial researchers in the Department of Life Sciences. The consortium is now awaiting the green light from Government and investors to carry out further tests of the product and its mode of use, which would then allow this solution to be rolled out to the nation’s woodlands.

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 of the total cost of treatment.