Sunday, 21 May 2017

Asian beetle could wipe out Britain's ash trees...and is heading our way

Sarah Knapton, Science Editor
18 May 2017 • 12:01am 

Britain’s ash trees could be wiped out by an Asian beetle just as they begin to recover from the devastating ash dieback fungus, scientists have warned.

In the latest State of the World’s Plants report, exerts at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew said that the emerald ash borer beetle was on the march to Europe and could be even more deadly than ash dieback.

Chalara ash dieback, which is expected to kill 50 per cent of the country’s 120 million ash trees, was first identified in the UK in 2012 but hope emerged last year when scientists discovered a tree in Ashwellthorpe Wood, in Norfolk, which was resistant to the disease.

But now experts fear the emerald ash borer could soon arrive in Britain and wreak devastation in a similar way to US cities, where tens of millions of ash trees across 25 states have withered and died at a cost to the economy of $10 billion. It has already been found west of Moscow.

Dr Richard Buggs, head of plant health at Kew, said the beetle could be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for Britain’s ash trees.

“There is a real chance that the emerald ash borer could come to the UK. It’s currently devastating ash populations in America and it’s currently found around Moscow in Russia and research shows it is spreading towards Europe, so over the next few years we could see it enter Europe and spread through and find ash trees already weakened by ash dieback.
 “And it’s actually far more damaging that ash dieback.

“It is has killed huge numbers of trees in America and they have a lot of avenues of ash trees in towns and some of them have been completely wiped out.”

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