Britain scrambles to contain deadly ash tree disease

Nov 02, 2012
File picture of the entrance to a farm in Suffolk, eastern England. The British government convened its emergency crisis committee on Friday to discuss how to contain a fungal disease threatening ash trees that has already wiped out swathes of woodland in Denmark.

The British government convened its emergency crisis committee on Friday to discuss how to contain a fungal disease threatening ash trees that has already wiped out swathes of woodland in Denmark.

The Chalara fraxinea has been present in European for the past two decades, destroying up to 90 percent of the species in some areas of Denmark, and has now been found in Britain.

Ministers announced a ban on the import of ash trees on Monday as well as restrictions of the movement of the trees, its plants and seeds within Britain, but there were fears it could already have spread.

The crisis has revived memories of , which devastated Britain's elm trees in the 1970s. About 100,000 ash trees have been destroyed so far in an attempt to halt the spread of the , which first appeared in Britain in February in a consignment of imported trees in a nursery.

Last month it was identified in ash trees in the wider countryside in eastern England.

Britain has about 130,000 hectares (320,000 acres) of predominately ash tree woodland, comprising about 5.5 percent of its woods, with a further 12 million ash trees outside woods and forests, according to the Forestry Commission.

The trees have high , as their light and airy canopy allows sunlight through to the woodland floor to enable a rich and varied ground flora to grow. This in turn provides food for a wide variety of insects and birds.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson chaired a meeting of the government's crisis committee, Cobra, on Friday to discuss how to manage the problem with government's chief scientific advisor and forestry and environmental officials.

Speaking earlier this week, Paterson said: "This is a very serious disease that demands action to stop its spread."

Explore further: Policy action urgently needed to protect Hawaii's dolphins

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cornell leads fight against invasive emerald ash borer

Sep 02, 2010

Cornell University is leading efforts to manage outbreak populations of the emerald ash borer (EAB), a beetle that has the potential to devastate ash trees in the Northeast. The new invasive species is already ...

Recommended for you

Protections blocked, but sage grouse work goes on

17 hours ago

(AP)—U.S. wildlife officials will decide next year whether a wide-ranging Western bird species needs protections even though Congress has blocked such protections from taking effect, Interior Secretary ...

Uphill battle to tackle Indonesian shark fishing

Dec 17, 2014

Sharks are hauled ashore every day at a busy market on the central Indonesian island of Lombok, the hub of a booming trade that provides a livelihood for local fishermen but is increasingly alarming environmentalists.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.