Not Dutch Elm Disease all over again?
I was saddened tonight to read the bleak news that it may already be too late to stop a killer tree disease decimating millions of our native ash trees. Only days after the government announced a ban on all imports of foreign ash trees, and strict movement controls within this country, it has emerged that the disease has already made the transition from recently planted nursery stock into mature native stock. Over a hundred thousand trees have already been felled and burned, and there will be more to come. It is a disaster, not only for the ash tree and the landscape of our fair country, but also ecologically as the ash is home to many insects, birds and other wildlife. In a reaction to the ban on imports the RSPB has already called for much tighter controls on the import of all non native species, as they are clearly very worried about the potential impact on our bird populations, many of which are already in serious decline. Our own trade association, the HTA, called for a ban on imports almost 3 years ago, but no-one was listening. Let’s just all hope that this isn’t really as serious as the devastating Dutch Elm epidemic of the latter part of the last century. I fear it may be though.