Imports of ash trees could be banned to save the U.K.'s estimated 80 million of the species from a deadly fungus.
The tree disease Chalara fraxinea has already decimated around 90 percent of Denmark's ash population and was found in the U.K. at a Buckinghamshire nursery in February, raising fears of a repeat of the epidemic of Dutch elm disease in the 1970s, which wiped out virtually the entire mature population of elm trees – 25 million – by the 1990s.
Infected trees have since been found at a handful of locations in the U.K. from outside Glasgow to Cambridgeshire – though not in wild areas outside recent plantings and nurseries – and are being destroyed as they are found. Ash accounts for around a third of our wooded landscape which includes parks and hedgerows, as well as woods and forests.
A ban on imports could come into effect as early as November, just before the planting season, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said on Thursday.
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