Monday, 19 January 2015

Trees under threat: The oak, beech and birch could be lost if Britain does not act quickly

They help define our landscape, but it could be radically altered over the next century unless steps are taken to stop the onslaught of pests

Sunday 11 January 2015

Urgent action must be taken to save Britain's forests from being devastated by a wave of new diseases brought by climate change and the global trade in plants, leading scientists have warned.

Species such as oak, ash, Scots pine, larch, beech, birch and juniper are all at risk from a host of new bugs, fungi and bacteria, some of which are already in the country. Others are expected to arrive soon.

One expert has warned that Britain's forests could suffer a similar fate to woodlands in much of the US, where vast stands of trees have been wiped out by beetles, whose numbers have exploded in the warmer temperatures. 
In a special issue of the journal Forestry, published this month, researchers have laid out a number of techniques that could help build resistance to pests and diseases.

These include creating genetically modified trees designed to withstand conditions such as ash die-back, and persuading the forestry industry to plant more "natural" forests that are better able than regimented, single-species plantations to withstand such onslaughts.

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