May 17 Wondering what to do about ash dieback? By Rich

Tim Rowland, development Officer with the Future Trees Trust, as sent us their latest press release about a project they are running aimed at combating ash dieback.

Here’s how you can help

A unique project is hoping to stem the tide of the ash dieback disease by encouraging people to help in finding the solution.  Although millions of trees are at risk from the disease, the Living Ash Project, one of several research projects into ash’s resilience to dieback, is aiming to find tolerant native ash trees from which to breed the next generation of healthy trees.

The Living Ash Project is a consortium of specialists including environmental charities Earth Trust, Sylva Foundation and Future Trees Trust, and the Forestry Commission’s research agency Forest Research.

The £1.2M project, funded by Defra, is the only ash dieback project to use ‘citizen science’ to help in gathering information. Members of the public are encouraged to obtain a special aluminium tag to fix to an ash tree and submit basic details about the tree on-line, together with a photo.

The project needs to identify healthy trees, especially in areas where other ash trees are succumbing to ash dieback. As spring advances and leaves begin to appear, now is the perfect time to identify the signs of ash dieback – wilting growth and possibly even bark lesions.

The Living Ash Project urgently needs your help to identify tolerant trees. It is thought that 1% of our ash trees will show a good level of tolerance to ash dieback. The Living Ash Project needs to find at least 400 of these from across the UK to create the next generation of healthy trees. Ash tags are available free of charge from the Living Ash Project by visiting their website www.livingashproject.org.uk

Defra’s Chief Plant Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spence, said ‘’Defra is very pleased to be able to support this important project. Not many people may know that 46 species of plants and animals can only live on ash trees, so it’s not only the trees we will be saving.”

Living Ash Project’s lead Dr Jo Clark said’ We really need the help of the public to find healthy ash trees across the country. We’re asking anyone that spends time in the countryside and cares about our woodlands to keep their eyes open for healthy trees in areas of ash dieback and if they spot a healthy tree, report it on the project website.”

Further Information

The Living Ash Project was launched in 2013. It incorporates four work programmes to:-

  1. identify individual trees that show good tolerance of Chalara ash dieback
  2. screen these individuals using genetic markers developed by other Defra funded research
  3. secure material from these trees in archives for further breeding purposes
  4. develop techniques for rapid production of tolerant trees for deployment to the forestry sector

The Living Ash Project aims to secure ash trees for the future that show tolerance to Chalara ash dieback. It is important that a good proportion of trees that make it through a screening programme will be suitable for timber production to ensure a continued supply of this valuable product for the future.

In total, including in-kind contributions from the many partners, the Living Ash Project will cost approximately £1.2M and will take six years to complete.

Project website www.livingashproject.org.uk

Media enquiries

Dr Jo Clark, Earth Trust ([email protected], tel. 01865 409411)

Pictures are available

Interview and guided tour opportunities available: with Dr. Jo Clark, Forestry Research Manager, (population genetics and tree breeding specialist), at Earth Trust’s national research woodland, Paradise Wood.

Sylva Foundation

Sylva Foundation works across Britain caring for forests, to ensure they thrive for people and for nature. From its base at the Sylva Wood Centre it supports innovation and enterprise with home-grown wood. Sylva is a charity registered in England & Wales (Reg. Charity No. 1128516) and in Scotland (Reg. Charity No. SC041892). www.sylva.org.uk

Earth Trust

The Earth Trust is an environmental learning charity (Reg. Charity No. 1095057).  We believe the best way to look after the places we love is to change the way we live. We provide great opportunities for people of all ages to discover nature and the countryside. Our programmes of events, courses, children’s learning and volunteering can inspire everyone to make a small difference and look after our local environment. www.earthtrust.org.uk

Future Trees Trust

Future Trees Trust is a registered charity (Reg. Charity No. 1103202) dedicated to the improvement of broadleaved trees through selective breeding, and to improve their resilience to disease and climate change, By making broadleaved trees more attractive to grow for timber, we hope many more trees will be planted with all the associated benefits for our environment, our economy, and for public enjoyment. www.futuretrees.org

Forest Research

Forest Research is the research agency of the Forestry Commission and is one of the world’s leading centres of research into woodlands and forestry. www.forestry.gov.uk/forestresearch

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