A fungal infection that has seen more than 100,000 trees already destroyed around the country could spread to the North East.
Four confirmed cases of the ash dieback disease have been found in the region – at recently planted ash sites near Newcastle, Seaham, Newton Aycliffe and Richmond.
Environment experts in the region fear the fungal infection, which spreads easily, could have serious consequences for natural woodlands.
The fungal infection has already killed about 90 per cent ofash trees in Denmark.
The government’s emergency committee, Cobra, is holding crisis meetings to discuss the extent of the threat and how to prevent the disease spreading further.
Imports of ash trees have been banned in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease.