Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Ash dieback, it's no laughing matter...

My usual style of writing these blog entries is to try and inject a little humour to compliment some interesting dialogue.

Sometimes the subject matter requires a tad more gravitas though. The 'ash-dieback' caused by the chalara fraxinea fungus that is making headlines across the U.K. is a case in point.

As I write this update the disease now threatens most of the estimated 80 million ash trees and worryingly for me personally, there have now been 9 confirmed sites in my own gloriously,tree rich county of Kent.

People have already said to me that it won't be a disaster on the scale forecast by those in the know! This seems to be based around the (crazy to my way of thinking) premise that we had DED (Dutch elm disease) in the 1970s that devastated our native elm trees, yet nature reclaimed the open spaces that the felled elm left behind, and now, most people are none the wiser.

Well, there's an old saying that 'Nature abhors a vacuum' based on the observation that nature requires every space to be filled with something.

But to me the loss of these native trees is of huge importance and whilst it's true that nature will compensate by filling voids with other things, eventually the very nature of our British landscape and countryside will be changed forever.

Without getting into the politics of how and why this disease has taken hold in our county, there are, as always, knock-on effects to consider.
Ash dieback could have a devastating effect on our invertebrate population-especially those that rely solely on ash.

The Invertebrate Conservation Trust points out that there are 27 species
that rely almost entirely on ash for survival.
7 species that rely on ash are already considered to be rare. Nearly 100
invertebrate species in total are known to feed on ash.

Platyrhinus resinosus
This fabulous looking weevil pictured above is one of the species that is thought to rely solely on ash. It's not known to be associated with any other species as far as I know.

That of course means that should we lose all of our native ash trees, this wonderful creature would become extinct.

Ash woodlands have light, open canopies, so are an important habitat for flora such as bluebells. Birds like bullfinches feed on the trees' seeds.
Also, ash provides an important habitat for more than a quarter of Britain's lichen, including some of the nationally rare species.

I purloined this little graphic from the internet that shows how the loss of ash trees could affect nature...

It's a serious subject that I could bang on about for ages and turn this little blog update into a mighty tome but I won't do that because I would like to think that you'll return another day, to at least glance at future missives.

I'll return very soon with a more 'normal' style of entry- probably still no 'knob' gags though!

Until the next time then...

As a postscript I'd like to apologise if I have misused 'effect' and 'affect', I can't remember the verb/noun thingy but, you get the gist I hope?


  1. It's really worrying isn't it! I do hope that we can 'manage' it before it becomes too much of a disaster....
    On a brighter note, I *love* that weevil!! Not yet found this species!

  2. It's a great looking weevil isn't it-only ever found a couple but really striking things. Apparently they say that there are some trees that are resistant to this and so may survive. Still think it's going to be really tough though.


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