Ash dieback: Research, funding and policy news – 6 May 2015

6th May 2015

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Chalara has spread to more than 1,000 sites, says Defra

Ash dieback findings have passed the 1,000 site mark, just three years after Defra discovered it in a Buckinghamshire nursery.


New app to allow everyone monitor tree health in Ireland

Treecheck, a smartphone app to enlist the public’s help in safeguarding tree and forest health on the island of Ireland, was recently launched by Minister of State Tom Hayes and the Minister for Agriculture in the North Michelle O’Neill.

Minister Hayes said that outbreaks of Chalara Ash Dieback and Phytophthora ramorum in larch on the island have brought into sharp focus the threat posed by the introduction and spread of serious pests and diseases to our trees and forests.


Treating ash seeds with hot water may kill Chalara infection

Immersing ash seeds in 44°C water for 5 hours may eradicate Chalara infection in ash seeds without significantly reducing the viability of the seeds. Forest Research scientists have published the results of this trial in Quarterly Journal of Forestry. Batches of ash fruits were subjected to hot-water treatments at 32, 36, 40 and 44°C for 1, 2 and 5 hours respectively. Further trials will be required to validate this method but hot-water treatment might provide a new management tool, enabling disease-free plants to be raised from ash fruits collected from disease-affected areas.

Shelagh A. McCartan, Joan F. Webber and Richard L. Jinks. (2015) Hot-water treatment as a possible method for eradicating Chalara fraxinea (Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus) infection from ash fruits (Fraxinus excelsior L). Quarterly Journal of Forestry 109, 18-23 (available in print only).


Cork company could help eliminate ash dieback

MEP Sean Kelly says that a Cork-based company called Treemetrics now has the technology and expertise to help tackle ash dieback disease using their satellite and online technologies. The Fine Gael MEP says that satellite imagery can identify exactly where dieback is occurring or likely to occur and that knowledge will help eliminate the disease in time, it is hoped.

New multi-evidence annotation of ash tree genome now available

Annotation Version 3 (released 26/02/15).

Countryside Stewardship: Woodland Capital Grants 2015

Countryside Stewardship will help rural businesses improve the countryside environment, and the Woodland Capital Grants in 2015 will prioritise support for activity this year to cover:

-Creating and maintaining new woodland for biodiversity and water benefits including flooding;

-Woodland management plans;

-Tree health

The Forestry Commission is now open for applications for these Woodland capital grants.


Interim report on the results from fungicide efficacy testing for Chalara

Defra has funded a three year research project (2013-2016) to develop strategies to mitigate the spread of ash dieback in the UK. In October 2013, details of the laboratory and field work being undertaken to test efficacy of currently available fungicides against ash dieback was published on the Defra website. All 14 products (plus an additional three tested as a result of information from the manufacturer) were tested in laboratory experiments to measure the effectiveness of the fungicides against mycelial growth in broth culture.


Derbyshire man’s bid to protect Britain’s native ash trees

Joe Alsop, from Derbyshire, is a Reserve Manager for Natural England. In 2014 he spent six weeks travelling Europe to study the serious tree disease, ash dieback, as part of a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship. In addition to writing a report on his findings, Joe is using the information gained on his Fellowship to give a series of talks and run workshops, discussing the best way to manage woodlands prior to and post infection from this devastating disease.


Borders bids to tackle ash tree disease

A tree health officer has been appointed to help the Scottish Borders tackle a serious disease which experts predict will wipe out 95% of ash trees in 10 to 15 years. Steve Morgan, who has worked for the Forestry Commission in a wide range of roles in the past, takes up the new job and will cover southern Scotland from his base in Selkirk. His priority will be tackling ash dieback, which can now be found in every 10km square in the Borders. It is especially prominent in the eastern Borders, where most ash trees can be found.


Oliver Rackham, tree writer, leaves behind big boots to fill

The Guardian pays tribute to botanist, academic and nature writer who wrote books on countryside, woodlands and trees.


Brussels policy seminar on wood pastures

17 November 2015


Some of Europe’s most beautiful landscapes comprise scattered large old trees on pastures grazed by livestock. Often with medieval origins, these wooded pastures provide many cultural, ecological, aesthetic and economic benefits. They are rich in biodiversity and the ancient trees are irreplaceable. As well as the ‘usual’ threats of agricultural intensification or abandonment, they are now threatened with unintended destruction by EU agriculture and agri-environment policies because wood pastures don’t fit comfortably into bureaucratic categories: they are neither open pastures nor woodland but something in between.

The Society of Biology is supporting a seminar in the European Parliament in Brussels on 17th November to discuss the effects of European policy on these treasures of the landscape. For more information or to reserve a place, contact Barbara Knowles, Senior Science Policy Adviser,


Stalking the Hardy Ash

Friday 29 May Start time: 4.00pm from Kentish Town rail & tube station, London – free event (but booking essential) FULLY BOOKED

Saturday 30 May Start time: 10.00am from Kentish Town rail & tube station, London – free event (but booking essential)

150 years ago, poet and novelist Thomas Hardy while working as an architect’s technician was in charge of the excavation of the graveyard in Old St Pancras churchyard, arranging for the removal of gravestones so that work could continue on the London & Midland railway. The gravestones were leant up against an ash tree. Over time, the tree roots have enmeshed the gravestones, creating an extraordinary feature.

And here begins our journey with a photography walkshop to explore other unusual trees in the vicinity and seek out significant trees that Thomas Hardy himself would have seen. This walkshop will include some amazing discoveries and uncover some revealing facts surrounding our trees.


#tree_or_false Twitter campaign

The Mayor of London’s 2015 LondonTree Week runs from the 23 – 31 May, as part of which the Museum of Walking (@museumofwalking) will be running our popular Tree or False? walkshop around the ‘Ice Age Tree Trail’ in the gardens that surround the Imperial War Museum in Southwark.

In the month before the Tree of False? walkshop, we are using Twitter to send truths and un-truths about the 34 native tree species on the Ice Age Tree Trail. Beginning on Monday 20 April, on each day at 08.00 BST we will tweet a myth (or truth) about one of the 34 tree species that have colonised Britian since the Ice Age – using the #tree_or_false hashtag. We will also include an image pertinent to the myth or truth or of a tree. We welcome as many people as possible to participate in this campaign. @museumofwalking #LondonTreeWeek #tree_or_false.


If you have details of meetings, research, funding or policy news on ash dieback that you would like circulating, please email us.

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