10 March 2019, 9:12 am

Ash dieback: Deadly tree fungus spreading ‘more quickly’

A deadly fungus is spreading “more quickly and lethally” through the UK’s ash trees than experts had anticipated, BBC Wales has learnt.
Millions of diseased trees near buildings, roads and railways will have to be cut down.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) warned of a “very significant impact” on the landscape.
The Welsh government announced it was setting up an expert group to advise on the issue.
Landowners are already paying out thousands of pounds to hire tree surgeons, temporary traffic lights and other equipment to deal with the problem – known as ash dieback.

One described the situation as a “tragedy”.
A recent survey – which split the UK into 10km grid squares – found infections had been confirmed across 80% of Wales, 68% of England, 32% of Northern Ireland and 20% of Scotland.
What is ash dieback?
 Wales has been particularly affected by the spread of ash dieback, which was first identified in the UK in 2012
 Its proper name is Chalara dieback, named after a fungus called Chalara fraxinea
 Symptoms include lesions at the base of dead side shoots, wilting and lost leaves and a killing off of new growth on mature trees
 The disease is spread by released spores and has swept across Europe over the past 20 years, affecting about 70% of ash in woodland
 Ash is an important species for nesting birds, insects and fungus
 It does not pose a risk to human or animal health
Dr Chris Jones, tree protection officer for NRW, said it was now “endemic”.
“We’re finding it in woodlands, we’re finding it in roadside trees, we’re finding it in hedgerows right across Wales.”
He said it was important landowners – including local authorities – started to plan ahead and budget for any felling that may be required.
However, for trees situated in places where they do not pose a risk to safety, the current advice is that they should be left standing in order to identify any that may show signs of resistance to the fungus.