Ash dieback has reached our shores and our nation’s 80 million ash trees are now at risk. This disease has swept through Europe in two decades leaving 60-70% of ash trees infected.
Ash is not the only tree with an uncertain future. Other pests and diseases threaten our native trees and woods. Tree health is an urgent issue and we need your help to tackle it.
We are already working on a feasibility study with Defra and other partners to see how we can harness the power of ‘citizen science’ to help identify and monitor tree pests and diseases in our precious woods across the UK. Reports of tree disease from the public via websites and smart phone apps will be screened by specially trained Woodland Trust volunteers so that the information can be passed on to Forest Research scientists in the right format to help with their vital work in tracking and combating tree disease. We have a major bid for European funding under consideration that will help to scale up this important work later in the year.
Growing our own
The Trust and our partners plant many thousands of young trees every year and we are working to make sure that all of those trees will come from seed collected and grown on in the UK. We are working with tree nurseries to find ways of supporting the future production of saplings so that existing nursery businesses are able to gear up their production processes with confidence and supply us with guaranteed UK trees that remove the risk of importing disease.
We will host a series of conferences, meetings and events to share knowledge and learning about the issues and impacts of ash disease and wider tree health risks on conservation. We will bring together leading scientists and practitioners from the UK and abroad, starting with an expert seminar on ash disease being held jointly with Defra in London in June of this year.
Our conservation response
Download our report: The common ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) and ash dieback disease (Chalara fraxinea) A conservation response
Tree diseases & pests
Position statement on tree pests and diseases
Position statement on tree provenance
New native woodland
The UK is one of the least wooded countries in Europe, with only 13 per cent woodland cover compared to the EU average of 37 per cent. Ancient woodland covers only around 2 per cent of the UK.
Ancient and native woodland
Ancient woodland is irreplaceable. Wooded since at least 1600, it is ecologically our richest land-based habitat, home to many rare and threatened species.
The UK is internationally important for its outstanding number and quality of ancient trees, many remnants of old parks or hunting forests.
Hedgerow trees and other trees outside woods
Ash is the UK’s most common tree outside woodland, making up 9.6 per cent of the total. This means that in some areas loss of a high percentage of ash trees to Chalara ash dieback would dramatically change the landscape.
PAWS (plantations on ancient woodland sites)
Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) are ancient woods that have been planted with non-native conifers, mostly during the mid-20th century. The Trust is working with others to promote their gradual restoration.