It’s clear by now that our ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) are under serious attack by the ash dieback fungus (Chalara fraxinea). Is this tree, one of the most common in Britain, going to be wiped out?
Leo Hickman at the Guardian asks whether there’s any hope of stopping ash dieback here. He concludes that it’s ‘a lost cause’!
Anybody with a Smartphone or with Internet access can contribute to the AshTag project. Perhaps if surveillance like this, and action such as the ban on imports, had happened two or three years ago, we wouldn’t be in such a mess now. That’s why our Government is being sued over its slow response.
But here we are. In a mess. Our Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, chaired a perhaps belated ‘ash summit’ today. I get a sense of panic, ‘We must do something, anything!’ unpleasantly like the way other diseases have been mishandled. Diseases such as foot and mouth which ripped through our country’s ungulate herds, and Dutch elm disease which ripped through our elm trees (Ulmus spp.)
To me the most interesting thing said about the alien speces C. excelsior is being said by molecular ecologist Dr Graham Rowe. He notes evidence of disease resistance in some trees (scroll down for quotes by Dr Rowe). If confirmed, genetic resistance could offer a way forward.