Researchers have developed a low-cost solution that could control the fungal disease that is threatening the UK's 80 million ash trees. Initial tests are being carried out at Imperial College London's Silwood Park Campus in Berkshire and will continue in 2013.
The fungus Chalara fraxinea entered the country via ash saplings imported from the European mainland and it has led to the destruction of an estimated 100,000 diseased saplings and mature trees in the UK in recent weeks. The UK Government has banned the import of foreign trees and the movement of UK ash trees, but agricultural experts warn this ban is too late because the disease is already established and spreading.
Environmental company Natural Ecology Mitigation is working on the solution with the Forestry Commission's Forest Research unit, the International Pesticide Application Research Consortium (IPARC) and Imperial researchers in the Department of Life Sciences. The consortium is now awaiting the green light from Government and investors to carry out further tests of the product and its mode of use, which would then allow this solution to be rolled out to the nation's woodlands.
Tim Mott, director of Natural Ecology Mitigation, said: "The product is formulated and patented and initial laboratory tests have been successfully completed. We are spearheading the scientific fightback against tree disease and now believe it is necessary to accelerate our laboratory research and field trials in readiness to counter the new threat."
In Denmark, Chalara fraxinea, also known as Ash Dieback, has wiped out 90 per cent of ash trees in just seven years. The disease only recently arrived in the UK, where 80 million ash trees make up over 30 per cent of the deciduous woodland. It has, almost simultaneously, been discovered in Ireland.
The product is called CuPC33 - a solution of copper sulphate and other minerals. Copper has long been used to treat fungal
|Contact: Simon Levey|
Imperial College London