The ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) is ubiquitous in the British Isles. It can grow on any soil but prefers a moist soil where its roots can penetrate deep down.
Experts warn that we could lose up to 95% of ash before a cure is found or a mutant resistant strain is found or developed. Denmark has already lost 90% of its ash trees.
Could diseases be imported and spread deliberately?
At first it might be a wacky thought but seriously, it's not inconceivable that the recent spread of fatal plant pathogens has been deliberately spread in order to cause widespread damage.
If this is the case then there's absolutely no chance of policing our woodlands or detecting anyone who may be carrying infected material.
In the past the UK, indeed the western world, has viewed bioterrorism as a potential for releasing chemicals such as anthrax with the intention of wiping out human life. What's not often considered, it seems, is bioterrorism as a means to infect plants and animals, thus restricting us from producing food and growing other resources such as construction timber and fuels etc.
Whatever has caused Chalara fraxinea to spread, one thing is certain, we will have to just wait and see to what extent the disease causes fatalities in our native trees.
I do like one idea put forward by tree scientist Gabriel Hemery. Gabriel suggestsa ten-point plan for ash dieback Chalara fraxinea in Britain, where mature ash trees are not felled in infected areas.
I'd wholeheartedly agree.