I recently attended a talk by a senior member of The Forestry Commission. They, like many other arborial organisations are extremely concerned about Chalara (Ash Dieback) disease. This, as the name implies kills ash trees. The disease is spreading at a rate of 200 km per year and has already entered Eastern England. Trees with the disease have been seen in Aylesham.
The ash makes up about 30% of British woodland including hedgerow trees so, if as expected, the disease kills millions of our trees, there will be a huge impact on our landscape over the next few years. It is an echo of what happened when Dutch Elm Disease struck our countryside in days gone by. Our landscape will be irretrievably altered.
The Forestry Commission is looking into how we may go about replacing these lost trees all over our countryside. Which species will we use? Will it be the oak, perhaps the lime? Who knows? There is talk of producing disease resistant Ash, but it may take many years of test growing to identify which plants are resistant so if we want to replace our lost trees with some urgency, the ash seems an unlikely prospect. Enjoy the beautiful ash when you see it; sadly it may not be here for long.