Death of the Ash

One thing very upsetting but it might have passed under the radar for most people is not so much Cameron/Clegg/Millipede, Obama/Romney or even the feminists but something to do with deaths everyday.

[Click for the big pic]

The ash tree. Lovely article at the Spectator on it:

It seems unlikely that a fungus that killed 90 per cent of Denmark’s trees and spreads by air will not be devastating here, too. There is a glimmer of hope in the fact that ash, unlike elms, reproduce sexually so they are not clones — uniformly vulnerable to the pathogen. But it’s only a glimmer: tree parasites, from chestnut blight to pine beauty moth, have a habit of sweeping through species pretty rampantly, because trees are so long-lived they cannot evolve resistance in time.

And what of the supposed guardians of all things tree-ish in GB?

The Forestry Commission’s apologists are pleading ‘cuts’ as an excuse for its failure to do anything more timely to get ahead of the threat, but as a woodland owner I am not convinced. An organisation that has the time and the budget to pore over my every felling or planting application in triplicate and come back with fussy and bossy comments could surely spare a smidgen of interest in looming threats from continental fungi that have been spreading out from Poland for 20 years. The commission was warned four years ago of the problem.

And what are they actually doing?

Just last year, I received a letter from the Forestry Commission demanding access to survey one of my woods to answer the question ‘what are the forecasts for timber, biomass and carbon?’ in order to ‘help the United Kingdom meet international commitments, such as reporting for the Global Forest Resources Assessment and the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE)’.

So, sweet FA.   It’s the mindset:

The Forestry Commission’s priority has been, as in so many government bodies, to supply talking points for the international carbon-obsessed bureaucracy. The implicit assumption here, of course, is that climate change is the greatest threat to Britain’s trees, when in reality far greater threats come from diseases carried around by foresters themselves. This is happening throughout the world of nature conservation. A climate fetish has sucked all the oxygen from the real threats to species and habitats — indeed it has actually begun to make those threats worse.

As an ardent champion of free trade, by the way, I make one exception: we are far too free in trading live creatures that can carry diseases or smuggled pests. We need to get more serious about this issue.

Instead, the perpetual urge to elevate climate change as an ecological threat has distracted the world from the truth that the greatest cause of species extinction is the invasion of alien exotic species: fungi, weeds, snakes, rats, cats, goats, mink, grey squirrels. No other cause even comes close to this one. Of the 181 species of bird and mammal that have died out since 1500, just nine were on continents. The rest were on islands (Australia counts as an island in this respect, having an isolated and vulnerable fauna).

Shan’t reprint his entire article but you get the general idea and I’m really devastated by this, and not just as a boatbuilder who sees his lovely timber disappear.   I want to appeal to those of a similar mindset to me on socio-political issues.   Having a green mindset on things like the ash and on the NY Moors heather does not make one a socialist/feminist/do-gooder/whiny-moany.

I’m not going to rush out and hug an ash tree.   But equally, I really want to see this devastation cease.   There’s too much devastation in too many areas at this time.

7 Responses to “Death of the Ash”

  1. CherryPie November 1, 2012 at 19:04 Permalink

    It isn’t just the Ash that has problems, Oak trees have problems too, one of the areas at Attingham Park is cordoned off because of it:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/shropshire/hi/people_and_places/nature/newsid_9092000/9092766.stm

  2. James Higham November 1, 2012 at 19:34 Permalink

    Very sad thing, Cherie – both beautiful trees.

  3. dearieme November 1, 2012 at 19:46 Permalink

    People keep telling me how lovely our street was “with all those lovely elms before they all died”. But if you look you’ll see that several of our front hedges host resurgent elms. I suppose we should all kill ‘em quick before some lunatic decides to “protect” them all so that their roots can damage our houses and foliage shade our gardens. I wouldn’t like to lose my two ashes, but I don’t suppose I’ll have much choice.

  4. A K Haart November 1, 2012 at 20:13 Permalink

    People will notice this because there are a huge number of ash trees around. This is a good point too, as any walker will tell you:-

    “Instead, the perpetual urge to elevate climate change as an ecological threat has distracted the world from the truth that the greatest cause of species extinction is the invasion of alien exotic species”

    I see it all the time. Himalayan balsam for example – it’s all over the place. In some places you walk along a river bank and can’t see the river because it’s completely screened by Himalayan balsam.

  5. wiggiatlarge November 2, 2012 at 08:57 Permalink

    It has been a slow response by the Forestry Commission and they have had cuts by up to 40% in their research fund, this is a difficult one to see as to the outcome as it is our most common tree, as Cherry says oaks are suffering to from a blight bought over to Germany on specie Rhododendrons and now to here, this one does at the moment seem contained.

    We have also had quite recently a Chestnut canker that killed quite quickly but seems to have run its course and only a few years back we feared for the London plane trees that started dropping leaves at the end of May and were completely denuded a month later that also ran its course over about a five year period, there have also been numerous blights to several shrub species as well all or nearly all can be traced back to imported material.

    And strangely my neighbor asked me only yesterday to look at an Eucalyptus that has a fungus round the base , I am sending a sample for analysis, Eucalyptus were thought to be immune to almost anything!

  6. James Higham November 2, 2012 at 11:00 Permalink

    Again, it’s unforeseen consequences v known in advance it would happen.

  7. Rossa November 3, 2012 at 09:27 Permalink

    Just don’t sweep the leaves from the trees, that have fallen into your garden, out into the street. The gardener for an elderly woman has just been fined for fly tipping even though the leaves came from the trees lining the highway a responsibililty of the Council.

    And in another report a young child got an £80 for throwing a stick river.

    Penalties and fines are sheer extortion with their bullies the bailiffs terrorising people on their doorstep. And just when there’s a big campaign about loan sharks in the run up to Xmas. But, of course, when it’s the Council the menaces are legal, but not lawful.

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