Trees make life better but they don't live forever

Trees may live for hundreds of years, sustain civilisations and host thousands of species at once but unfortunately even the oldest and strongest of species aren’t immune to diseases.

In the 70s, Dutch Elm Disease wiped out most of the country’s elm trees leaving only some coastal towns untouched (unfortunately now, it’s continued to spread). This means that myself, and many others under 40, have probably never seen an elm tree in the British countryside.

More recently in 2012, Ash Dieback started to quickly spread across half the country with results that we have yet to fully comprehend. Though it hasn’t been as devastating here as in Denmark (where 90% of ash trees are affected) it’s still a huge concern – and affects most of Bedfordshire already.

Tree disease isn’t widely discussed on the news – as many environmental issues sadly aren’t – but bio-security is vital for the future of British woodlands and the wildlife that lives in them. On 25th May this year, the government launched their 2018 Tree Health Resilience Strategy which focuses on planting more trees, in more places, with wider genetic diversity, to try and prevent the spread/introduction of diseases that could potentially devastate British woodlands.

Ancient woodlands of the future

At the Forest of Marston Vale, we are creating the ancient woodlands of the future and trying to preserve the place of trees in our landscape, for future generations. We have a responsibility to plant a mixture of native, English broadleaf but (sadly) we are as susceptible to tree disease as anyone. Wouldn’t it be a terrible shame if the next generation are able to say things like ‘many others under 40 have probably never seen an ash tree…’


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If you’re interested in woodland management and would like to help us out at one of our sites by becoming a Wood Warden, then send us an email or give us a call on 01234 762608.