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Europe’s threatened trees

by Lewis ~ 20 November, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Recently, the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) carried out a survey of the state of trees through Europe, specifically related to their risk of extinction.  There are some four hundred native tree species spread across Europe.  

Trees are not just essential for life on Earth (generating oxygen through photosynthesis) but they also provide food and habitats for hundreds of species - birds, mammals, insects, spiders etc. The loss of tree species has considerable ‘knock on’ effects in terms of the biodiversity of an area. Trees also provide us with timber and other materials (cork, cellulose, oils). Read more...

Medicine for bumblebees

Medicine for bumblebees

by Chris ~ 26 October, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Some 90% of the world's plants, including many food crops, rely on animals for pollination (as opposed to wind or even rarer water pollination). The contribution of honey bees and bumblebees to these pollination services is vital but they are at risk due to:

  • the effects of disease, 
  • climate change 
  • effects of pesticides and 
  • habitat loss / destruction.

Whilst it is sometimes possible to help hives / colonies of the ‘domesticated’ honeybee suffering from parasites / disease, ‘helping’ wild populations is a much more difficult proposition. Read more...

Armillaria - honey fungus

Armillaria – honey fungus

by Chris ~ 21 October, 2019 ~ comments welcome

The honey fungus (Armillaria mellea) is a plant pathogen, found across the world. It colonises and kills a variety of trees and woody plants, producing yellow-brown mushrooms that appear above ground.  These are the fruiting bodies of a much larger organism, that can spread over large distances underground. 

The honey fungus can grow and spread by means of rhizomorphs.  These act as a system of underground structures that invade and decompose wood and roots.  They allow the fungus to infect, spread and survive for long periods of time.  Once the honey fungus is present in a garden, it can be managed but rarely eradicated. Read more...

Protecting our trees and woodlands.

Protecting our trees and woodlands.

by Chris ~ 27 September, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Globalisation is the process by which economies and cultures are drawn together; they become more inter-connected through the flow of trade, capital, people and technology.  This has occurred in part due to the rapid growth of air travel, container shipping etc. so that there are now massive movements of people and goods (both raw and manufactured).   One positive aspect of globalisation is that we have access to foods and materials from all over the world.  A downside is that disease, parasites and pests can ‘hitch a ride’ with people or materials and goods as they move across the world.   Plants and animals can also change their geographical range / distribution as a result of climate change.  The woodlands blog has outlined some of the problems associated with various ‘alien or invasivespecies, for example,

Asian hornets, Read more...

Horse chestnut update

Horse chestnut update

by Chris ~ 13 September, 2019 ~ comments welcome

The woodlands blog has reported on the problems facing the horse chestnut. Whilst not particularly a woodland tree in the U.K., horse chestnut trees were often planted by local authorities, in part because of their impressive appearance, particularly when in flower but also because of their low incidence of fungal disease and pests. However, it now seems that councils are having to remove many of these trees in order to protect people at risk of diseased branches (when they fall). For example, an avenue of horse chestnut trees planted in the 1930s at Avebury, Wiltshire, has had to be felled after becoming diseased.  The National Trust reported the trees had 'bleeding canker'.  Planting of horse chestnut trees has declined as the young trees quickly succumb to the activities of the leaf miner moth, the leaf blotch fungus and / or bleeding canker. Read more...

Bark beetles : the larger eight toothed bark beetle

Bark beetles : the larger eight toothed bark beetle

by Lewis ~ 25 June, 2019 ~ comments welcome

The woodlands’ blog has reported on outbreaks of bark beetles in the States and Canada but as of 16th January this year, measures were put in place to protect the UK from the larger eight toothed spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus). This beetle has been a problem on continental Europe for many years; it has been estimated that Germany lost some 30 million cubic metres of timber (between 1945 and 1949) to bark beetles. Spruce is a commercially important species, with perhaps some 800,000 hectares in the UK.  On the continent, the beetle has also been found living in pine, larch and douglas firThe beetle was found in Kent last December.  The special measures restrict the movement of spruce in a 50 km area around the outbreak.  Details of this area can be found here. Read more...

Can the UK keep out tree diseases? - a view from Professor Nicola Spence

Can the UK keep out tree diseases? – a view from Professor Nicola Spence

by Angus ~ 16 April, 2019 ~ one comment

Recently, I met up with Nicola Spence, the UK's Chief Plant Health Officer: her observations took me on a hair-raising tour of the battlements that keep British trees safe from foreign invaders. To give an idea of the importance of plant health she pointed out that in the 1960s and 1970s Dutch Elm Disease from Europe killed between 10 and 20 million trees; the recent Ash Dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus), which also came from continental Europe, is in the process of wiping out about 80% of the UK's ash trees. Consequently her department is very vigilant to stop any further invasions of pathogens or insects that could attack our trees. For example Defra and the Forestry Commission have successfully dealt with localised outbreaks of Sweet chestnut blight and in Kent there was a recent infestation of trees by the Asian Longhorn Beetle which meant cutting down and incinerating all trees within a 100 metre radius.

Read more...

Disease in American deer - chronic wasting disease (zombie deer disease).

Disease in American deer – chronic wasting disease (zombie deer disease).

by Chris ~ 27 February, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) affects deer, sika deer, reindeer, elk and moose. It was recorded in the wild in the United States some forty years ago, but had been seen in captive deer back in the 1960’s. Now the number of reported / observed cases is increasing; it is spreading in the United States and Canada.  Some 24 states in the U.S  and two Canadian provinces have recorded cases.

Chronic wasting disease also known as ‘Zombie Deer Disease’ affects the central nervous system of the animal.  The deer experience loss of co-ordination, weight loss, bouts of extreme aggression. And eventual death.  It is a neuro-degenerative disease.  The affected animals have a ‘wasted appearance’ and a ‘vacant stare’. Read more...

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