Monday, 29 October 2012

Ash Dieback Disease

As you may be aware, the media have reported a new and very serious threat to the UK countryside in the form of a fungus Chalara fraxinea. This fungus has the capacity to decimate our native ash tree population, in much the same way as Dutch Elm disease wiped out the elm population last century. The infection is nowhere near us at present, but since infected trees moved for the nursery trade are the main means of long-distance spread, it could crop up anywhere.

It is important that we monitor ash trees this winter and during the spring and early summer months next year. The pdf documents in the links below (courtesy of The Forestry Commission) indicate what to look for. Lesions appear on the bark surface and can grow considerably in size. The bark underneath is often discoloured and grey or brownish. It can kill the tree, or lead to substantial die back of the crown. The leaves wilt from the tips but, as many other conditions also do this, the main ID feature is the bark.

Pictorial Guide to Ash Dieback Disease

Ash Dieback Disease Pest Alert

At the request of the Forestry Commission and Defra, can you:

1) Look out for signs or symptoms of the disease in ash trees.

2) Send any photos or descriptions, plus your location and contact details to one of the contacts listed by the Forestry Commission:
• Forest Research Disease Diagnostic Advisory Service
Telephone: 01420 23000 or Send email
Forestry Commission Plant Health Service
Telephone: 0131 314 6414 or Send email
Fera Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate
Telephone: 01904 465625 or Send email

If you have a camera and GPS on your phone you can use a new app, Ashtag, developed by the University of East Anglia to track the spread of the disease. Alternatively, you can manually upload a picture from your camera to their website:

At this stage the disease appears confined to the east of England but, as with many fast moving pathogens, early containment and identification is essential. Wherever you are, please check the health of your local ash trees.

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