As previously reported by BALI, ash trees are under serious threat from pests and disease. Two of the most serious threats are from Ash Dieback and Emerald Ash Borer. Whilst the Emerald Ash Border is not yet in the UK, Ash Dieback is. Since its introduction, Ash Dieback has spread to nearly every corner of the UK and now threatens the existence of many thousands of ash trees.
Since 2012, £6 million has been spent on research to protect the Ash from pest and disease threats. Whilst many thousands of ash trees will die as a result of Ash Dieback, much work has now been completed on how to manage and mitigate this loss. Strategies have been developed on how best to manage the trees which must be felled, but work has also been completed on identifying ash trees which are tolerant of the fungus as well as which specimens may be used to provide the ecological benefits of lost ash trees. In addition, work has been completed on identifying how best to respond to Emerald Ash Borer if/when it arrives in the UK.
More work is needed however, which is why the government has now released a vision and high-level strategy for ash research. The objectives are as follows:
· assisting long term survival of native ash in the landscape
· restoring ecosystem services by repopulating the treescape with alternative species to ash
· reducing the impact of ADB on ash-associated biodiversity and public health and safety
· ensuring preparedness and an optimal response to an EAB incursion
· mitigating the risk of further pest and disease outbreaks on ash
· continuous review of pests and diseases which pose a threat to ash, in particular Ash Dieback and Emerald Ash Borer
Sadly, there is no avoiding the damage inflicted on the landscape by Ash Dieback disease in the coming years. However, once completed, the strategy will ensure the best possible management of the immediate impacts of Ash Dieback and help with the restoration of landscapes affected. It will also ensure the best possible measures are taken to avoid similar effects from Emerald Ash Borer.
The full strategy may be reviewed at the following webpage: