The death of trees is a natural part of life – dead wood and veteran trees are important habitat for invertebrates and other wildlife. Some diseases even support healthy eco-systems but a number of emerging tree diseases have the potential to become epidemics, causing drastic loss of UK woodland.
Ash dieback is not the only threat to our native trees and woods
Ash dieback is a serious disease that has killed ash trees across northern Europe. It has now been found in the UK and could devastate the landscape in the same way as Dutch Elm Disease.
Horse Chestnut Canker
This disease was first reported in the UK in the 1970s but was relatively uncommon until around five years ago. Since then a new strain has seen cases surge across the UK.
Sweet Chestnut Blight
This disease has been present on the continent since the 1930s but is new to the UK and was recently found in Warwickshire and East Sussex.
Acute Oak Decline
Acute oak decline is thought to be around 20-30 years old and affects mature English and sessile oak trees of at least 50 years old.
Oak Processionary Moth
This non-native moth has been found in London and Berkshire. It causes a risk to human health as well as seriously damaging trees.
Phytophthora ramorum (sudden oak death)
This fungus-like pathogen was first discovered in the UK on a viburnum plant in Sussex in 2002. In 2009 it was found to be infecting and killing larch trees.
Emerald Ash Borer
Not yet present in the UK but has been found in Russia and North America It causes death of many ash trees within 2 to 3 years.
Red Band Needle Blight
Also known as Dothistroma needle blight, this disease affects conifers, most commonly pine, with Corsican, lodgepole and our native Scots pine all affected.
Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner
In the UK, this was first found in London in 2002. While it does not affect tree health, it does afflict the appearance of horse chestnut trees, and can cause public concern.
Damaging plant pathogen (Phytophthora austrocedrae)
First seen in the UK in 2011 and worrying because it affects juniper, one of our less common native trees.
Asian longhorn beetle
Originally from China, this beetle poses a serious threat to a wide range of our native broadleaved trees.
Massaria disease of plane trees
Over the last three years plane trees have suffered from decline and dieback of branches due to a fungal disease.