If you hadn’t noticed, Britain’s Ash trees are in serious trouble. Chalara Fraxinea, an airborne micro fungus that causes Hymenocyphus Fraxineus -aka- Ash Dieback disease, is generally expected to be on course to kill 90% of our Ash trees over the next 5-10 years.
That is a staggeringly large figure/quantity that will visibly alter the country. Ash is one of the fastest growing, easily germinated & most durable species of tree we have – paralleled perhaps only by the Sycamore. There is a major reforestation effort/argument to mitigate the impending climate catastrophe by planting millions more trees on our haggard & ravaged landscape that even the government accepts is necessary.
Britain has some of the most pitiful levels of forest in Europe, of which, only a shameful, pathetic & derisory figure is of native woodland, which constitutes less than 2% of of the countries existing forests & trees. Last year, the perennially lying Tory regime promised to plant 5,000 hectares of land with new trees, but fell short by over 71%, managing a miserly 1,420. Ash, a beautiful species that grows almost like weeds, would have been one of the apex native candidates to lead such initiatives. Thanks to the Conservative parties contempt & ignorance, that is no longer a viable option as the established species faces majority wipe-out. The first detection of Ash Dieback was in 2012, in Ashwellthorpe, Norfolk.
David Cameron’s coalition government had been warned repeatedly (the usual then) about the stupendously unnecessary gratuity & threat of importing Ash saplings from Holland where the disease was already established. Anyone familiar with ash will know how easily it seeds. In crevices between concrete, micro fissures between timber, in almost anything, just try & stop it. The idea that it should be imported as saplings is so stupid, so mad, it becomes perverse. Goodness only knows what kind of inane WTO incentive or bizarre twist of trade lunacy & subsidy can make such unneeded, circuitous stupidity & counter-logic the status-quo, but that is the way it was rolling. Moronic motives aside, the threat of importing the disease was serious & the government was urged to ban imports from infected regions. They ignored the warnings, far to busy looting the country, torturing the poor, selling off the spoils, asset-stripping & enacting the biddings of their corporate & kleptocratic proprietors to ever consider the countries bio security. Now, when we need them more than ever, 90% of our ash trees are doomed & introducing more is, for all purposes, worthless, as they will most likely only succumb to the massacre themselves. Vote Tory.
After the typical denials & downplaying, the government had to finally admit that it had a serious epidemic on its hands. Their response, headed mostly by Owen Patterson who was running DEFRA, was less than pathetic. Here are just a couple of reports/comments pulled from the Guardian at the time –
“The action plan refers repeatedly to the cost of any intervention now, but makes very little reference to the costs that farmers, woodland owners, local authorities, gardeners and the government itself will face as this disease spreads across the country. Through this action plan we’re effectively surrendering the British landscape to this disease before we’ve fully investigated ways of reducing rate of spread and buying time.”
“The limited actions and weak commitments set out in the plan will not be enough to control the spread of the disease – it’s far too little, too late,”
“We are alarmed to see the government is even wavering about continuing its programme of tracing, testing and destroying infected young ash trees. It is also disappointing to see the government is proposing almost no action in areas of the country already infected.”
in early 2019 is was reported that an increase in Chalara Fraxinea in the UK would cost the British economy an estimated £15bn.
this is already the reality of a government run by a prime minister that promised to run “the greenest government ever”. You can never, ever, under any circumstances trust the Conservatives. death & ruin.
So here’s a book from Lisa Samson on the unfurling disaster. It’s also about the long history & special importance of this highly valued & revered tree. As she explains, the ash has long been cherished for it’s immense strength & pliability as a wood source. It also burns perhaps hotter than any other variety of wood & was greatly valued by many cultures domestic & foreign (the Vikings & Saxons get a lot of attention in the book). As a result, harvesting the wood was a huge craft & source of labour & livelihood throughout the country historically, all of which she recounts here. The details & descriptions of these almost entirely lost skills & expertise from bygone communities illustrate a much more fulfilling & respectable existence/culture than much of today’s junk & squander.
Lisa travels across the country to historical forests & ash trees of distinction. Folklore, fables & local history are intertwined. Through it all she laments the coming expiry of these wonderful trees & examines stricken woods & those affected. I am glad I am not there to see it as it is horrible, & I can imagine the grief of watching something so precious visibly-dying in front of you, when only a few years ago it seemed to be in full health & openly flourishing. Hundreds if not thousands of years worth of life being exterminated, all because of the shitness & insanity of modern trade idiocy & the blight of Tory cancer. Scientists, woodsmen, farmers, craftsmen, carpenters & the like are visited, queried & integrated into the research to offer the broadest picture.
The ramifications on insects & other dependent flora is also examined.
A few things are missing here, but I got & learned a hell of a lot to further my understanding of this terrible’ terrible’ terrible act of supreme waste & knowing destruction. It is going to be extremely bad, just a question of how bad. The insanity of modern capitalism/free trade & the jet-black virulence of Conservative death spores are squarely to blame for this easily avoided catastrophe. There is no shortage of catastrophes lined-up if we don’t radically shut-down this deadly malpractice & misrule. The parallels with the current Covid outbreak & the Tory governments criminally shambolic reaction & total lack of prior preparation, foresight & counter strategies, is alarmingly stark. It will remain the same until they finally kill the lot of you (I guarantee that its not far off) or the populace finally has the epiphany so long overdue & deals with them appropriately & permanently.
Along with Ash Dieback, we have a new disease bleaching our beech trees that emerged last year. This joins a jeremiad of threats & blights such as sudden oak death (Phytophthora ramorum), the oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea), moth infestations & the pathogen “bleeding canker” ravaging Horse Chestnuts & a myriad of other ills. Dutch Elm disease devastated millions of elm trees in the UK leaving us apparently, with less than one hundred mature elms left in the UK today. Global heating & climate mutation are allowing certain pests, some of considerable menace, to migrate & settle or/& survive due to milder winters. Under the Cancervative’s contemptuous insouciance & the blanket deterioration of quality & protective measures anticipated under exiting the EU, the preservation & safe-keeping of our environment & bio security will only worsen if left with these toxic fraudsters & willing destroyers. We need a serious national offensive/initiative to take action across the country with everybody involved. It cannot be left to this curse of a government as you may as well just surrender the rescue/prevention effort to the diseases/parasites themselves.
Lisa Samson, 2018, 4th Estate, 206 pages
ps: if you want to know how obscene/suicidal/death cult it is in the US, check this – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/24/trump-administration-wildfire-science-promote-logging-california-emissions