Ash tree fungus could 'significantly' change countryside

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.

Ash tree
An ash tree leaf affected by the fungus sweeping across Britain. Credit: Norfolk Wildlife Trust

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.

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Ash tree imports banned

All imports of ash trees have been banned and walkers are being asked to take precautions to stop the disease spreading.