UK ASHES TURN TO ASHES.

FUNGUS RUNS RIOT

There is nothing like issues of racism, child abuse and fraud by MP "s to get the people of Britain fired up. That is unless there are threats to dogs or trees !In my own town, a road widening scheme caused chaos when protesters found that it would entail cutting down some roadside Oaks etc. The nutters or the committed, it depends where you look at it from, even built a makeshift tent base to centralise their objections. Eventually, the trees came down, the protesters drifted away and the road was widened and double the trees cut down were planted by the Council to ensure no lasting damage to the greenery took place. A small, but indicative example of the public attitude to trees.

Now there is another, more serious threat to the UK tree population. Years ago, so called Dutch Elm Disease decimated British ELM trees to the point of extinction. Now another favoured species, the ASH is threatened , again by a fungal disease blowing in from Europe. Chalara fraxinea, the fungus in question, was responsible for killing of 90% of Ash trees in Denmark in 2003. Now, in East Anglia and Kent, the disease is taking hold in the UK. The spread to the UK originates in both infected imported trees and wind blown spores carrying the disease over the seas into the country..

Television has gone big on the problem ,carrying examples of infected twigs and branches showing splits and leaves exhibiting darkened patches. In fact so far, over 100, 00 trees have been cut down and burned turning the Ashes inti ashes in dramatic fashion. Autumnal tramps in the woodlands now demand careful washing of shoes, wiping of dogs, ponies and horses, and sanitising of bicycle tyres amongst other care restrictions. mobile detection units are being deployed in key areas to identify swiftly, infected trees as genuine concern rises daily.

GOVERNMENT FEELS THE HEAT.

The funeral pyres of condemned trees are turning up the heat on the Government who are roundly accused of acting too late by far even though they were alerted to the problem months ago. For example, in the news this weekend was the biggest grower of native trees here. He is to sue the Government for £200,00 as he had to destroy 50,000 ash trees. Apparently officials detected the disease in small numbers on his plantation nursery in June but only issued an order preventing him from removing the infected or even touching them. As a result, the disease spread unchecked but it was not till September that officials determined he should destroy every tree and not only the infected ones.. Clearly this is a row that will need to be determined in Court but on the face of things more positive action by Government officials may have mitigated this particular problem.

Elsewhere, Botanists are being quoted as warning that worldwide trees are under threat for various reasons beyond logging and the decimation of the rain forests. One such expert has revealed that PINES in Japan were killed by a tiny worm originating in America and Oaks in the UK had fallen prey to another insect bringing poisonous fungus onto the trees. This man claims that tree disease are in fact globalising and that things can only get worse as it seems that nothing effective can be done as things stand. The cutting down and burning of Ash trees over a 20 mile radius of discovered infection is stated to be impossible due to the large numbers involved and the difficulty of locating all within the circle. It appears that even in 2012, our best tree brains are at a loss to know how to halt the spread of tree toxic fungi and that until this is achieved, then trees worldwide are vulnerable to such attacks.

The UK Government last week, banned the importation of trees from Europe. However it appears nothing can be done to stop importation from outside Europe. Indeed the Government is seen to be doing too little too late in this matter. As for Britain"s Ashes, the picture looks bleak. By now most have seen their leaves fall resulting in the fact that further disease is unlikely to be discovered before the next Spring. The problem here is intense but it serves only to highlight the worldwide problem that affects trees on an escalating scale and which, currently at least, mankind is powerless to halt. If this seems like Science Fiction I apologise but assure you that, based on learned information to hand, it is chillingly real and a very worrying Science Fact.

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