Oak disease threatens U.K. trees

Acute_oak_decline_fig01

Courtesy of the Forestry Commission via Wikimedia Commons.

Scientists know little about a fatal oak tree disease that has cropped up increasingly in recent years.

Acute oak decline (AOD) first appeared in the United Kingdom (U.K.) 20 to 30 years ago; however, it seems to be on the rise. The disease causes mature oak trees to develop black, weeping spots on their trunks known as stem bleeds. So far, officials believe it may be caused by the buprestid beetle, which often is found along with certain types of bacteria on afflicted trees, according to the U.K.’s Forestry Commission.

A new nation-wide survey has been commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which has given £ 1.1 million to help pinpoint the exact cause of the disease and to gauge how widespread it is. Officials with the Forestry Commission believe thousands of trees may be affected, according to the BBC.

So far, it appears most affected trees are located in the southeast and middle areas of the country.

AOD isn’t the only tree disease to hit the U.K. in recent years. Last year, the country tightened import rules for trees after ash dieback was detected. The disease causes crown death, leaf loss and eventually the death of the tree.

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