Sorry, but while sitting here doing nothing, I’ve had a long time to think about this subject. Just how many more trees are we supposed to lose in the UK before something is done so that we don’t lose any more? Trees are so precious, they are the lungs of the planet that clean the air for us mammals to breathe, taking in carbon dioxide and giving out oxygen. Trees are where thousands, if not millions of insects live, which feed the birds etc, so they are vital in the foodchain. Some varieties of trees live for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and are part of the landscape that we and our ancestors all grew up with, so when something goes wrong and our favourite trees are dying, then we quite rightly get annoyed.
First of all we had Dutch Elm disease which came to the UK in the form of a beetle which lives under the bark. Elm trees had been part of the landscape in England for hundreds of years, now we have hardly any left, almost wiped out in just a few decades. Any trees that do exist are only young ones, when they get to about 10 yrs old, that is when the beetle gets under the bark and starts to kill the trees.
Next came Sudden Oak Death which is a fungus which lives in host plants ( like rhododendron ponticum ) and spreads to the oak trees and eventually kills them. Hundreds of oaks have had to be felled and masses of rhododendron have been scrubbed out to try and contain the fungus but so far it is still spreading. The oaks are such majestic trees of the countryside and in parkland, and were worshipped in the days of the Druids, thousands of years ago. I think it must be one of the first trees I knew when I was a child. My brother and I used to climb one in the garden where we lived and drop acorns onto unsuspecting people passing underneath, I went back to see the tree a few years ago, it’s much smaller than I remembered! We have 5 oaks in the woodland strip here.
Just in the last few years Chestnut trees are now under attack, as I know all too well from the ones that we have in the garden here. When the leaves emerge in the spring they look fine, but by June/July it is obvious that they have been infected once more by a moth which has travelled across Europe and arrived on these shores about 15 yrs ago. It has now spread over most of England and while it won’t actually kill the tree, it weakens it because the leaves can’t photosynthesise properly. If this happens each year, then the tree will become weaker and weaker and eventually die. We have 4 chestnuts in the woodland strip.
And now to the Ash trees which we have heard so much about in the last couple of weeks. We, the public have only just heard about it, but the “experts” have known about this fungus causing havoc in Poland and Denmark’s forests for some time now and still they have allowed the importing of mature ash trees ( which were infected) from Holland where it is also prevalent. I am amazed!!! Sorry to say it, but ash trees are just huge weeds, they seed everywhere, I pull hundreds of seedlings out each year, if anyone wants any, they don’t have to import them from abroad!! Knowing what a long tap root they put down, I just wonder if the imported mature trees will survive for very long anyway. Ash trees are now dying in the east of England and thousands of trees are now being felled and burnt. I read in the Sunday Telegraph this last weekend, that we are supposed to burn all our ash leaves, do they really think I’m going to sort them out from the rest of my leaves for leaf mould? We have 6 ash trees here. Our woodland strip, apart from the acers, witch hazels and amelanchier that I have planted, is just oak, ash, and chestnut.
I’m sorry, please excuse me, but I feel I must go and hug my trees while I still have them, I just don’t know what else I can do.