Monday, 29 October 2012

'Ash dieback' fungus Chalara fraxinea in UK countryside


A disease that has the potential to devastate the UK's ash tree population has been recorded for the first time in the UK's natural environment.

Chalara dieback, caused by a fungus called Chalara fraxinea, was confirmed at two sites in East Anglia.

Until now, the disease had only been recorded in a few nursery specimens.

Ash trees suffering with C. fraxinea have been found across mainland Europe, with Denmark reporting the disease has wiped out about 90% of its ash trees.

Experts say that if the disease becomes established, then it could have a similar impact on the landscape as Dutch elm disease had in the 1970s.

This outbreak resulted in the death of most mature English elm by the 1980s. Elms have recovered to some extent, but, in some cases, only through careful husbandry.

The East Anglia outbreak was confirmed by plant scientists from the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) at the Woodland Trust's Pound Farm woodland in Suffolk, and Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Lower Wood reserve, in Ashwellthorpe.

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