Chalara fraxinea is a disease that has decimated Ash tree species throughout Northern Europe, already affecting over 90% of Ash trees in Denmark and Sweden and is present as far as Belgium. Until recently the UK was unaffected, but it now seems that imports of Ash saplings have released the disease into the wild, and at least two outbreaks have been spotted in wild woodland in Norfolk & Suffolk.
This is very bad news indeed. There are about 80m native Ash trees, making up 30% of our indigenous deciduous woodland, so there are very serious ecological consequences if the disease is not contained.
Spores can spread about 20 miles, and it could be as bad as the Dutch elm disease which hit Britain in the 1970s and all but wiped out that native tree species from our landscape. More about the science here.
Norman Starks, the Woodland Trust’s operations director, told The Guardian that a loss on the scale already seen in Denmark could have a devastating effect on Britain’s countryside. “It would be an environmental disaster,” he said. “The impact on woodland biodiversity would be huge.”
Photo reports are graded into four categories by our panel of experts:
Unchecked sightings are awaiting review. (some outstanding)
Unlikely sightings which do not appear to be the disease.
Uncertain sightings are out of focus, distant or unclear, meaning no analysis is possible. We encourage a repeat submission if feasible.
Likely sightings appear to show symptoms which are indicative of the dieback disease and have been referred to the Forestry Commission, who are treating these reports with top priority. Please note it is impossible to scientifically verify without a site visit from a Forestry Commission inspector, and there are limits to the diagnosis possible with only a photo.
We have also now manually recreated the data from the Forestry Commission maps, shown in pink markers. These locations are approximate to within around ten miles.
Locations in shown in this map are imprecise to protect confidentiality. Exact locations are available to Forestry authorities.