War has been declared on the British woodlands, according to the British Forestry Commission, who remain the leading authority when it comes to safeguarding the British forests and woodlands.
The disease at the heart of this unrelenting war on the woodlands throughout East Anglia is known to specialists as Chalara fraxinea, or to us non-specialists, as ash dieback. This aggressive disease generally attacks younger and older trees, resulting in lesions, wilting and branch dieback. The younger trees tragically succumb quickly to the ailment while mature trees perish after several seasons of contamination. Today it is still unknown how the disease spread to the British Isles. The common belief is that it blew over the English Channel via microorganisms in the air, only to settle on the countryside to wreak devastation. Regrettably, it seems this outbreak could have been avoided, as evidence has emerged of the Government being warned about the possibility of contagion three years ago; as reported by the British newspaper The Guardian:
Emails exchanged between Britain's garden industry body, the Horticultural Trades Association, and senior civil servants in the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra), show that the government knew about "ash dieback" and was asked to impose an import ban on all ash trees from Europe, but did not believe a ban was "appropriate"
The British Government has since backpedaled by setting a ban on the movement of ash trees, effective on November 1, 2012. David Heath, the Environment Minister, warned MPs in the House of Commons that this disease could have 'potentially enormous consequences’.
Regardless, to some it is too late, with the damage already being done. The public dissatisfaction came to a heated climax when David Heath announced the burning of 100,000 ash trees at 1,000 different locations in his latest address to parliament. Although politicians continue to assure the public that the threat is being contained and managed, the threat is real, and some experts fear it is already too late to save the woodlands. As Dr. Adam Kleczkowski told the Daily Mail: In my experience of similar diseases, I suspect it has spread quite widely and there's very little we can do now. It's spreading like mad in Continental Europe and killing at least 60 per cent of trees there.
The public continues to fear the worst. Experts warn greater woodland devastation has still to come, yet the British Government continues to announce its complete ability to handle and manage this disease; even though they and the previous government knew it was coming, and both failed to act over the last three years.