A new map that will detail up to 280 million trees is being put together in order to chart how plant diseases could eventually restyle the landscape and put native wildlife under threat.
The danger posed by tree diseases such as Dutch elm, ash dieback, and acute oak decline threaten to alter the appearance of fields, hedgerows, and roadsides for generations.
Aside from our woodlands, trees form a mainstay of countryside nature systems, linking hedgerows and coppices, roadsides and ridges, not to mention providing nesting sites for some of the country’s birds of prey such as the beautiful hobby, majestic red kite and amazing buzzard, and of course the noble owls.
The rise of chalara ash dieback as a risk to one of the greater countryside’s most important trees has led to conservationists monitoring the fortunes of the UK’s standalone trees.
Specialists working at the Woodland Trust are collating data which maps 280 million trees across the entirety of England and Wales so that they can monitor the effects of any arboreal disease increases in both forested regions and across the broader rural landscape too.
With no requirements for our clearly underestimated species of trees to be replaced, the Woodland Trust is understandably concerned that diseases such as ash dieback could influence a change that there is no way back from, for trees being lost from the wider countryside.
So as a response to these hazards, the charity is initiating a pilot planting scheme, with 1,000 subsidised “disease recovery packs”, each inclusive of 45 native trees, that landowners are able to plant in field edges, hedgerows, verges, and watersides in the countryside.
As it stands there are five English counties currently suffering badly from the ash dieback disease are; East Sussex, Kent, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Northumberland, all of which will now pilot the scheme.
Woodland Trust director of conservation Austin Brady said: “What’s interesting about these trees in the wider countryside is that the majority will be native broadleaf trees, typically things like oak, ash, field maple and hawthorn, which are important not just for how the countryside looks but for wildlife too.
“A lot of these trees are quite old, so they are important habitat for everything from hole nesting birds such as owls and woodpeckers, roosting sites for bats, hosting all kinds of butterflies and insects and fungi that require mature trees.
“The difficulty with these trees in the wider landscape is there is no obligation on people to replace them if they die, so it’s a one-way ticket for many of these trees. In lots of hedgerows, field corners and roadsides, it’s difficult to imagine how these trees will get replaced.
“By the time people really notice the problem, we’ve almost left it too late to do something about it.”
Every tree the Woodland Trust using in its recovery programme are grown in the UK from fully traceable seeds collected in the UK and Ireland as a means to avoid the importation of diseased trees.
Fortunately for us, our treehouse holidays mean you can appreciate the UK’s trees and all the majesty while in one of the coolest glamping abodes around so that you can truly benefit from our countryside and all it can offer us, in its many ways.