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Good news for tree health

26th Jun 2019

There was some great news for British trees recently: the Asian longhorn beetle is no longer to be found in this country. The pest posed a serious threat to our oaks and birches, so its eradication after six years of work to stop it gaining a foothold here is a triumph. Meanwhile, an 'archive' of ash trees that exhibit resistance to ash dieback has been established as part of the effort to save this wonderful and widespread native species from decimation.

The archive is in fact a collection of living trees that researchers will be able to use to find out what makes them resilient to the disease. They could also offer material for a breeding programme f disease-resistant ash trees. It's part of a strategy that also aims to build up scientific knowledge about the emerald ash borer - another invasive pest that has the potential to cause significant damage to the ash in this country.

Dame Nicola Spence described the newly published Ash Research Strategy as a "document which will help us determine how to ensure ash trees remain in our landscape for future generations to enjoy".

Having recently read the book Epitaph for the Ash, we think it's fantastic that this culturally and ecologically significant tree might be successfully saved. Ash wood has played a significant role in history as a material for tool handles, looms and furniture, and as firewood and animal fodder ('tree hay'). It is the key habitat and food of some species like ash psyllid and the excellently named cramp ball fungus weevil, which feeds on a fungus also known as King Alfred's cakes, primarily found on ash and beech. Several moths including the tawny pinion and ash pug feed exclusively on ash, and many mostly rely on it, such as the barred tooth-striped, coronet, lunar thorn and ash bud moths.

We hope that at some point in the future, Chew Valley Trees will again be able to supply healthy ash trees to replace those that will inevitably be lost over the coming years. In the meantime, we are committed to practising good biosecurity to minimise the risk of spreading any tree pests and diseases in the UK. Find out more in our Plant Health Policy.

 

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