Present dan­ger to our liv­ing his­tory

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Gardens -

IT’S a tough life be­ing a tree. And the older the tree, the tougher it gets.

The Wood­land Trust says that al­most 84,000 “an­cient, vet­eran or no­table trees”, are in dan­ger from a mul­ti­tude of pests and dis­eases. Those at risk in­clude 7,000 trea­sured ash trees which are threat­ened with dieback.

An­cient trees are the nat­u­ral equiv­a­lent of listed build­ings; they’ve stood for hun­dreds of years and wit­nessed his­tory. Many have played a cru­cial role in our past and our folk­lore, and can never be re­placed through re­plant­ing.

Sadly, ash dieback is not the only threat to our an­cient trees; there are at least 15 known dis­eases and pests that pose an im­me­di­ate threat – oak, beech and Scots pine are all un­der at­tack.

Not all the dangers fac­ing our an­cient trees are nat­u­ral; some are man-made such as the pro­posed high-speed rail line. Cur­rently, there are 35 an­cient trees in dan­ger from the plan.

Austin Brady, head of con­ser­va­tion at the Wood­land Trust, said: “Los­ing some trees to dis­eases and pests is all part of life and death in the for­est, but to lose our pre­cious an­cient trees would be absolutely ter­ri­ble. Th­ese huge stal­warts have taken cen­turies to grow and their loss would just be dev­as­tat­ing, not only for the land­scape but also for the en­vi­ron­ment.

It’s ash, of course, which is in the news at the mo­ment – ash dieback, or Chalara frax­inea, is tak­ing a heavy toll on the na­tion’s ash pop­u­la­tion. To see if a tree is suf­fer­ing from the dis­ease, look at a young branch and scratch off a lit­tle of the bark; if it’s green un­derneath, the tree is healthy; if it’s brown, it’s not.

And watch out for wilt­ing on the leaves, which may be­come black­ened but still stay on the branch, di­a­mond-shape le­sions on the trunk or a bald­ing crown.

To find out more about spot­ting ash dieback and other tree dis­eases al­ready present in the UK, or to record pos­si­ble dis­ease in an an­cient tree near you, down­load the Tree Alert app or visit www.forestry.gov.uk

The An­cient Tree Hunt is a liv­ing data­base of an­cient trees. It started in 2004 as a joint ven­ture with the Tree Reg­is­ter of the Bri­tish Isles and the An­cient Tree Fo­rum. More than 115,000 hand­picked trees have been recorded across the UK. Wood­landtrust.org.uk www.treedis­ease.co.uk

KEY TO SUC­CESS: A healthy ash tree.

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