Imports of ash trees will be banned from today in an attempt to stop the spread of a disease that has practically wiped them out in parts of Denmark.
Chalara fraxinea has been found in at least eleven woods in Norfolk and Suffolk. In Denmark the fungus has wiped out 90% of ash trees in seven years.
The disease was first found in the UK in nurseries, but last week it was confirmed to have been found in the wider countryside in East Anglia. But the disease doesn't just endanger trees:
– Chris Panter, University of East Anglia
As well as 80 common insects, at least 60 of the rarest insect species in the UK have an association with ash trees - these are mostly rare beetles and flies."
The Wildlife Trusts is also concerned about what this disease can mean for our landscape:
– Rene Olivieri, The Wildlife Trusts
Ash trees, as hedgerow and field trees, are an important feature in our landscape and also a key component of ecologically unique woodlands that support rare species."
The Forestry Commission has said it is surveying ash trees in our region, and if the number and area of infected sites is small then the infected trees could be destroyed. Watch Malcolm Robertson's report.