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The Country Land and Business Association president Harry Cotterell has warned that ash dieback is one of many diseases posing a threat to the survival of the UK's native trees.
Professor Ian Boyd, who heads the government taskforce battling the ash tree crisis, has warned that the fungus spreading across Britain's countryside could have disastrous ecological consequences.
The chief scientific adviser at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told BBC Radio 4: "Ecologically it is going to change the countryside very significantly. Parallels have been made with Dutch elm disease of the 1970s. This is not good."
In the UK, ash trees make up around 30% of the wooded landscape, across woodlands, hedgerows and parks.
The fungus - which causes leaf loss and can lead to the death of the tree - wiped out 90% of ash trees in Denmark in just seven years and is becoming widespread throughout central Europe.
Imports of ash trees are to be banned from today in an attempt to stop the spread of a disease which has devastated them in Europe.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said on Saturday he was "ready to go" with legislation to ban ash imports which have been blamed for introducing the Chalara fraxinea fungus to the UK.
The Woodland Trust confirmed that ash dieback has been found in both mature ancient woodland and woodland creation areas on its estate at Pound Farm in Suffolk.
Infected ash trees have also be identified at Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Lower Wood reserve, Ashwellthorpe. In the UK, ash trees make up around 30% of the wooded landscape, across woodlands, hedgerows and parks.
The Forestry Commission is suspending the planting of ash trees in public forests it manages and the Woodland Trust is supporting a ban on importing and moving ash trees in a bid to stop the disease becoming established in the UK, which the Government is poised to bring in as early as next week.
Andrew Sharkey, head of woodland management for the Woodland Trust, said losing ash trees would have serious implications for wildlife and the countryside.
Ash dieback is caused by the Chalara fraxinea fungus. The fungus causes leaf loss and crown dieback and can lead to tree death, has wiped out 90% of ash trees in Denmark in seven years and is becoming widespread throughout central Europe.
It is not known how the disease spreads, but it could be by insects or rain splash, over longer distances it is believed to be transferred by the movement of infected tree.
Symptoms of Chalara fraxinea can be visible on leaves, shoots and branches of affected trees and include:
- In severe cases, the entire crown shows leaf loss and dieback
- There may be the formation of dormant shoots under the bark on branches and the trunk
- Foliage Leaves can suffer from wilting and black-brownish discoloration
The Forestry Commission has said that a disease which has devastated ash trees in Europe has been found in the UK countryside.
Ash dieback had already been found in nurseries and recently planted sites including a car park, a college campus and a new woodland, but has now been found in the wider environment at sites in East Anglia.
Fears are growing that it could wreak the same kind of damage as Dutch elm disease in the 1970s.
Latest ITV News reports
A ban on importing ash trees has been imposed in a bid to stop a "devastating disease" from sweeping across Britain's countryside.