Tens of thousands of trees at risk of disease or pests

16/10/12- Revisiting Alexandra Park in Hastings 25 years after the Great Storm of 1987.  Kevin Boorman, Head of Communications at Hastings Council with Arboricultural Officer Chris Wilken standing where many huge pine trees were felled by the wind.
16/10/12- Revisiting Alexandra Park in Hastings 25 years after the Great Storm of 1987. Kevin Boorman, Head of Communications at Hastings Council with Arboricultural Officer Chris Wilken standing where many huge pine trees were felled by the wind.
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THOUSANDS of trees across Sussex are at risk of dieing from disease or pests according to the latest survey.

The Woodland Trust is concerned about almost 84,000 ancient, veteran or notable trees including 7,000 ash trees at risk of dieback disease.

More than 115,000 trees, some of which have survived for more than 1,000 years, are registered on the charity’s Ancient Tree Hunt website.

The website has been built up over the last five years with information supplied by conservation volunteers across the country.

The Trust states ancient trees are the natural equivalent of listed buildings as they’ve stood for hundreds of years and witnessed historic events while watching silently in the background.

Ash dieback is not the only threat to ancient trees as there are at least 15 known diseases and pests that pose an immediate threat.

These include acute oak decline and the oak processionary moth, Phytopthora Kernoviae which affects oak and beech, and Dothitroma needle blight which affects Scots pine. Not all the dangers facing ancient trees are natural as some are man-made such as the proposed HS2 high speed rail link.

Currently, there are 35 ancient trees are in danger of being impacted by the new rail line and eight are likely to be completely destroyed.

Austin Brady, head of conservation at the Trust, said: “Losing some trees to diseases and pests is all part of life and death in the forest, but to lose our precious ancient trees would be absolutely terrible. These huge stalwarts have taken centuries to grow and their loss would just be devastating not only for the landscape but also for the environment.

“At the Woodland Trust we are looking at ways to fight tree disease and we will be holding a conference in June with some of the top minds in conservation, forestry and tree health to find a way forward for our country’s trees and woods.

“We need the public to help by getting into the great outdoors, looking at trees and checking them for signs of disease, so we have as accurate a picture of the situation as possible.”

To find out more about spotting ash dieback and other diseases already present in the UK or to recor disease in an ancient tree near you download the Tree Alert app or visit www.forestry.gov.uk