Deadly ash tree fungi found in U.K.

Ash dieback symptoms. Courtesy of WTPL/Mike Ryder.

The United Kingdom’s ash trees are in for a battle against a fungus that has decimated ash trees in other parts of Europe.

The fungus, Chalara fraxinea, which causes ash dieback, was detected in Suffolk and Ashwellthorpe by scientists from the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), according to the BBC.

The disease is marked by crown death in trees and leaf loss. It eventually leads to the death of the tree, according to the Woodland Trust.

Almost 90 percent of ash trees in Denmark and about 80 percent of ash stands in Poland have been affected by ash dieback. It can spread from 20 to 30 km a year, according to the Trust.

In response, the U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) imposed a ban on the import of ash trees, effective immediately. The ban comes just before planting season is set to begin in late November, according to DEFRA.

“Work is already underway to tackle the disease. Plant Health Authorities have been monitoring trees in infected areas to ensure early detection and trade bodies have been encouraging their members to impose voluntary import bans,” said Environment Secretary Owen Paterson in a statement. “By working together we can protect our native trees from this devastating disease.”

Authorities are urging people to report trees that they suspect have been affected by ash dieback to the Forestry Commission or FERA.

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