Ash dieback has spread relentlessly across the UK since 2012. LG Chairman, John Lockhart, reports on how it threatens to change the landscape and will cost millions to manage.
Almost six years ago, the then Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Owen Paterson held the Chalara ash dieback summit, as we appeared to be facing a repeat of the horrors of the Dutch Elm outbreak some 40 years previously. There was still hope that we might slow the spread of Chalara and that some specimens of ash, the UK’s third most abundant tree, would shrug off the horrific disease that had claimed all but 2–3% of the trees across continental Europe. The hastily prepared Chalara management plan sought to:
- reduce the rate at which the disease was spreading
- develop resistance in the population of ash trees
- encourage citizens, landowners and the forestry industry in monitoring and tackling the problem
- build resilience in woodland and associated businesses.
Following the predictions of Armageddon in 2012, the perception is that the ash dieback issue has since gone away. Sadly, this is far from the case.
The full article was first published in the RICS Land Journal in May 2018, and can be downloaded here.