Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 6°C

ESTD 1874 Search

East Anglia: Fears tree disease could threaten wildlife

15:56 29 October 2012

An ash tree

An ash tree


A DISEASE threatening the UK’s native ash trees could have a dramatic impact on wildlife and lead to rare species being lost if it takes hold, experts have warned.

Chalara ash dieback was first identified in the UK in nurseries and recently planted sites. Last week officials also confirmed it had been found in the wider countryside in East Anglia.

The chalara fraxinea fungus, which causes leaf loss and crown dieback and can lead to ash tree death, has wiped out up to 90% of ash trees in some areas of Denmark and is becoming widespread throughout central Europe.

The Government has announced it will ban importing ash trees and bring in tight movement restrictions tomorrow as part of efforts to stop the spread of disease.

But concerns remain that with the fungus now in the wider countryside, possibly arriving as spores blown over the North Sea, it will be very hard to stop its spread in the UK.

The Forestry Commission said it was surveying ash trees in East Anglia, and if the number and area of infected sites was small, they might try to destroy infected trees.

If it is more widespread, the focus would be on preventing further spread.

University of East Anglia researcher Chris Panter said: “As well as 80 common insects, at least 60 of the rarest insect species in the UK have an association with ash trees - these are mostly rare beetles and flies.

“Ironically, many of the rare species associated with ash depend on the dead or dying branches of old trees, but if infected trees are ultimately cleared away then even these species will suffer also.

“Ash is also important for many lichens and mosses that grow in its bark, and its seeds are an important food for wood mice.”

His concerns were echoed by the Wildlife Trusts, after chalara ash dieback was identified at Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Lower Wood reserve, Ashwellthorpe, an ancient woodland and a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Rene Olivieri, chairman of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Ash trees, as hedgerow and field trees, are an important feature in our landscape and also a key component of ecologically unique woodlands that support rare species.

“For example, upland ashwoods, such as those in the Peak District, support rare woodland flowers, a rich invertebrate fauna and important lichens.

“Their loss would have a dramatic negative impact on our natural environment.”

The discovery has also increased fears that ash trees face the same fate as the elm, which was devastated by Dutch elm disease in the 1970s.

Related articles


Corrie CCTV Screen

An abandoned van has been seized by police searching for missing RAF Honington serviceman Corrie McKeague, aged 23.

Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue team search for Corrie McKeague just outside Troston Slades Covert. Photo Mark Westley

Suffolk police officers are attempting to trace a group seen talking to Corrie McKeague at a pizza takeaway on the night of his disappearance.

Archie Joe Darby and Daniel-Jay Darby. Archie, four months, was killed and Daniel-Jay was seriously injured after being bitten by a dog at their Colchester home.

A four-month-old baby was snatched from his mother’s arms by the family dog and mauled to death, an inquest has heard.

Police were called to the crash

A man in his 30s is in hospital with serious injuries after a crash Stowmarket last night.

Ron Harris outside the first home he shared with his wife, Nina, at Shingle Street before the Second World War. Photo supplied for Life on the Edge by the Harris family.

It’s a place with tragedy and mystery in its past – but as many stories of resilient determination to build a community amid its wild and isolated environment.

Corrie McKeague's last ever sighting at 3.24am September 24 2016. CCTV still from Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds. The building in the background is the edge of Cornhill Walk Shopping Centre

A video of the last ever sighting of Corrie McKeague has been released, as four weeks pass with no new leads.

Stock image of the A14 near Kentford.

Two speeding motorists who admitted driving at 130mph in Suffolk have been disqualified from driving.

Most read

Great Days Out


Click here to view
the Great Days Out


Most commented


Show Job Lists

Don't miss


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24