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Action needed to prevent more devastating tree diseases entering the UK
Date:10/31/2012

h affects a wide range of trees and shrubs, including beech, ash, yew, rhododendron, magnolia and bilberry. It kills by creating cankers which girdle the trunk or stem, clogging up their water-carrying 'veins'. Records show the disease has wiped out millions of trees in the forests of California and Oregon in the USA since the 1990s and now its impact on UK ecosystems, biodiversity and the national landscape could be severe.

Studies in the UK reveal a pattern of Sudden Oak Death infection and disease spread which the scientists believe could lead to a national epidemic with consequences similar to those experienced with Dutch Elm Disease. .

Dr Potter explained: "Despite important biological differences between Dutch Elm Disease and Sudden Oak Death, we are very worried by the growing parallels between the two outbreaks. Whereas Dutch Elm Disease rapidly became uncontrollable because of its ability to spread very quickly across a given host range, Sudden Oak Death is proving equally uncontainable due to its capacity to infect new types of plant host species.

"Valuation surveys from our research suggest a lack of public awareness and this translated into an unwillingness to pay for control measures. Public awareness needs to be raised, not only in order to establish a stronger sense of personal responsibility for preventing the spread of plant diseases, but also to elicit more support and a greater willingness to pay for any more restrictive measures and policies that may be necessary in the future if we are to avoid another epidemic like Dutch Elm Disease."


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Contact: Simon Levey
s.levey@imperial.ac.uk
44-020-759-46702
Imperial College London
Source:Eurekalert

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