During the past week national and local news has reported the outbreak of a disease affecting ash trees, Chalara Fraxinea, or Chalara Dieback, has been detected in South East England.
What is Chalara Dieback?
Chalara Dieback is a fungal disease that causes leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees, and can lead to the death of the tree, especially in young saplings. The disease is found in many countries across continental Europe and has resulted in the death of many ash trees – it has killed up to 90% of the ash trees in Denmark alone. Until earlier this year it had not been detected in the UK. Since February it has been detected in ash saplings imported from nurseries in Europe. Last week it was found in recently planted woodland in East Anglia which had no association with sapling trees from imported stocks. It was also found earlier this month in Co. Leitrim in the Republic of Ireland. To date it has not been detected in Northern Ireland.
If allowed to become widespread, has the potential to wipe out the ash tree population in the same way Dutch Elm Disease almost wiped out the elm tree population back in the 1970s. At this stage it is thought the disease is spread by airborne spores.