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Ash Dieback hits the National Forest, full report

A deadly disease which kills Ash trees has been found in the National Forest in Leicestershire. Ash Dieback, as it's known, is a fungus which causes leaf loss and can lead to the death of the tree.

There are fears that if the disease takes hold in the Forest's Ash population, up to two million trees could wither and die.

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National Forest affected by the ash dieback outbreak

A young ash tree suffering from the effects of ash dieback at the National Forest in Leicestershire Credit: ITV News Central

ITV News Central have been to the location of an outbreak of ash dieback in Leicestershire. The disease is a major blow for the National Forest, as up to 20% of all trees there are ash.

Ash dieback causes ash trees to initially lose their leaves. Without leaves the trees cannot access sunlight which provides the plant with nutrients to grow.

The disease is a fungus which affects ash trees causing them to wither and die Credit: ITV News Central

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National Forest Company 'saddened' by disease arrival

We are saddened to learn of the arrival of Ash dieback in The National Forest. The Ash is usually a very robust Midlands tree, prominent in our hedgerows and woodlands. We must hope that the more resilient trees survive and breed new generations of trees which withstand the disease.

– Catherine Graham-Harrison, Chair of the National Forest Company

Ash Dieback affecting Leicestershire National Forest

The first cases of the tree disease Ash Dieback have been found within Leicestershire's National Forest. Trees ranging from five to seventeen years old have been found to be affected at three sites near to Albert Village in North West Leicestershire.

Ash Dieback now affects more than 550 locations across the country. It is estimated that Ash forms 15 – 20% of The National Forest tree stock which equates to in excess of 1.5 million trees which could be affected by the disease.

Ash is native to the British Isles and mainland Europe Credit: ITV News Central

Ash dieback was first observed in Poland in 1992 and has since spread to 21 European countries. There is no known cure for the airborne fungal disease.

Ash trees are a key component of Britain's ecologically unique woodlands and their loss could have a dramatic negative impact on the natural environment.

The disease causes leaf loss, bark lesions and crown dieback especially in young trees. Credit: ITV News Central

More doom and gloom for ash trees

There's more bad news for the country's ash tree population. Scientists have discovered the fungus responsible for Ash Dieback is now resident in the UK - meaning the disease could spread faster and further than before.

The Forestry Commission is warning that an entire generation of trees could be lost. Russell Hookey reports.

New cases of Ash dieback

New cases of Ash dieback Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Telford & Wrekin Council and the Forestry Commission have instigated a plan to remove ash saplings from the new Dawley Learning Community site following a confirmed case of ash dieback.

The case in Dawley is at the site within the newly planted landscape scheme where the replacement for the Phoenix School is being built.

It has been found in a group of trees that were sourced by the main earthworks contractor Birse Civils Ltd from a nursery in Lincolnshire and planted 12 months ago.

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