Ash Trees Disaster


Ash trees are one of our natives and are particularly common around the parish. In face we have spent 10 years trying to eliminate them from the meadow part of the Upper Orchid Field. But what would our countryside look like if they all went? This is not as unlikely as you might think. We have previously commented in Whats On about the rate of tree loss by human action what with new housing, cycle ways or action by individual householders. This is matched by a replanting record in Wales that is woefully short of the targets set by the Welsh Government. However this is as nothing compared with the threat created by Ash Dieback or Chalara, a lethal fungus first reported in Britain in 2012. In an experiment in 2013, 155,000 ash saplings were planted and only 2.5% remain disease free now. Not only is there a potential impact on the 955 mammals, birds, insects, lichens and fungi that use the trees but it will affect the council tax payer, through the additional cost of removing dead and dying trees, particularly where these overhang roads, parks or houses. And the most amazing thing is that even though it is a native species we imported 5.2 million ash trees from abroad between 2003 and 2011. Many of the pests and diseases our trees and plants are suffering from have been imported on shrubs and trees from abroad. It may be that we as consumers might have to consider asking our garden centres where the plants that we are buying have come from. Scientists are working on a variety of ways to help address the problem but timescales for developing disease-resistant strains can be measured in decades and Chalara is with us now. But, you might say, there are plenty of other types of tree around. The photo shows a veteran Sweet Chestnut tree near Cowbridge which we also have growing on Grange Park and in the woods near the Upper Orchid Field. Another killer fungus has destroyed 3.5 billion Chestnuts in the USA and last summer it reached East London, Devon and Dorset.