Alert: new ash tree disease

My new research project at UCL will research how citizen scientists might contribute data on and respond to trees diseases. Another scenario where citizens might act as an early-warning system. Great post – thanks!

Woodland Matters

Chalara dieback has recently been discovered in the UK. It is a serious disease of ash trees, Fraxinus excelsior, and is caused by the Chalara fraxinea ascomycete fungus.

It causes wilting, black-brown discolouration and loss of the leaves. Lesions or necrotic spots appear on the bark and enlarge to form perennial cankers. There is wilting of shoots and branches, causing crown dieback. Ultimately it can lead to tree death, with mortality more common in saplings.

This disease is currently spreading across Europe. In the UK it was identified in a shipment of ash trees from the Netherlands to a nursery in Buckinghamshire in February 2012, the trees were destroyed. Then in June it was found in young ash trees planted in a car park in Leicestershire, the origins of this are still under investigation.

So far the disease has not been located in the UK in the wild, but plant nursery and tree-care sectors are being urged to check the health…

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2 thoughts on “Alert: new ash tree disease

  1. Considering that ‘citizens’ have contributed to the spread of many new tree pathogens in the UK and citizen science would have to acknowledge some of the less publicised – if at all – facts re the spread. Also when there is a clear and gaping void between practitioners the policy makers and the public in terms of communication, much work needs to be done prior to introducing any initiative at all. The barrier many, mainly in the PR world of the myriad of forestry / tree / landscape & nature conservation organisations, have built up to disenfranchise the practitioners HAS to be dismantled first – because with regret there is no way any ‘volunteer’ can possibly accomplish an effective methodology of dealing with these threats without real knowledge and experience at their disposal – which whilst it exists is so distorted and falsified as to make the Daily Mail look like an academic journal.

    Also and most crucially someone, with real power and / or influence has to take head on the multinational sector of the horticultural world – an enviable task, but absolutely vital if we are to halt pathogens before entering the country.

  2. Thanks very much for your comment @europeantrees. You raise plenty of thought-provoking questions and issues. I am new to tree research, my background as a cultural geographer is an interest in what motivates people to participate, and how enthusiasm might sustain participation. My new research will deal with questions surrounding the inclusion of citizens in (and contribution of citizen data) in scientific projects relating to tree health. I intend to collaborate with an NGO as well as other grassroots organisations and communities – not only traditional amateur naturalist societies. I’ve had a look at your blog and I am looking forward to reading more and continuing this discussion with you. I’ll need to start with an attempt to map out this multinational horticultural world! Thank you!

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