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article imageDefra reports 52 cases of ash dieback disease

By Layne Weiss     Nov 5, 2012 in Environment
Defra (the Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs) have announced that 52 cases of ash dieback disease have been confirmed in the UK. A crisis meeting with the government's top environment advisors was held Friday.
Ian Boyd, chief scientist for Defra explained Friday that most of the UK's ash trees will be infected with ash dieback disease within the next decade, The Guardian reports. The meeting was led by Defra secretary of state, Owen Paterson.
Boyd said the trees cannot be vaccinated for protection, but said it is probable that some ash trees will have national immunity to fight the disease. "Older trees with ash dieback may weaken, but die of other diseases," he said.
Ash dieback causes leaf loss and crown dieback, BBC News reports. It also kills trees.
Ash dieback disease, or Chalara Fraxinea, has killed 90% of Denmarks ash tree population, the Daily Echo reports.
According to BBC News, in the last six weeks, more than 100,000 ash trees have been destroyed in the UK.
Before making any policy decisions on how to handle this environmental crisis, Defra needs to see how far the fungus has spread. More that 500 members of the Forestry Commission staff are working across the UK to figure to investigate the situation, and report any evidence of the disease, The Telegraph reports. Defra has ordered that every wooded area in the country be examined by Wednesday.
Defra hopes to have a new SmartCycler gadget by next week, BBC News reports. The device will test for the disease and results will be given within an hour. Currently, it takes days to get any answers.
Once Defra gets the official report, the government will hold a tree summit where forestry industries, scientists, charities, and nurseries will gather to discuss proposals for how the spread of this deadly disease should be deal with, The Guardian reports.
BBC correspondent Andrew Plant reports that the disease has already been found in 38 nurseries, plantations, and other locations in England and Scotland.
The government has banned all imports and movement of ash trees, The Daily Mail reports.
According to BBC Radio's Today, a plant nursery in Lincolnshire is suing the government for their approach toward the spreading of ash dieback disease. Simon Ellis, managing director of the nursery, explained to Sarah Montague of Today that the government could have avoided this if they had listened, but this is the nursery's harvest time, and the spread of ash dieback disease has cut off their income stream." With such a major drop in tree sales, Ellis believes the nursery had no choice. Ellis said they've already had to kill 50,000 ash trees that have been contaminated with the disease.
Defra secretary of state, Owen Paterson, told BBC News Friday that the fungus could be spread by the boots and pet dogs of people visiting the woods. He said everyone who visits the woods should make sure to wash their boots, their pet dogs, and their children. This may not stop the nationwide spread of the disease, but it could help slow it down, and if everyone takes this precaution, it could stop the disease from spreading to certain areas.
Animals such as buzzards, woodpeckers, and tree sparrows are dependent on the ash tree making it an important part of the ecosystem for various wildlife, The Daily Mail reports.
Over 100 types of insects live on ash trees, The Telegraph reports. 27 different kinds of insect species are totally dependent on the tree.
Other victims of the disease may include the bullfinch, which eat ash tree seeds, the High Brown Friitilary butterfly, and the Dusky Thorn moth, among many other plants, birds, and insects.
More about Ash trees, ash dieback disease, Fungus, Spreading
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