Cash sought to tackle oak threat

Environmental charity Woodland Heritage issues call for funding to overcome acute oak decline.

Woodland Heritage is appealing to landowners and foresters to help raise £45,000 for continued research into the cause of acute oak decline (AOD) in Britain.

The environmental charity is backing studies being carried out at Forest Research to identify the cause of AOD, which is affecting both native oak species - pedunculate and sessile - in the UK.

The scientists, based in Farnham, recently discovered a new bacterium linked to the disease. But they said more funding was needed for them to continue the research and mapping work, which aims to isolate the causes of the disease and develop a system for tackling it.

Unlike chronic oak decline, which can take hold over decades, AOD can kill a tree within four or five years from the onset of symptoms. It affects mature oaks, more than 50 years old, causing stem bleeding from cracks in the bark.

The number of confirmed AOD sites quadrupled between 2006 and 2010, rising from 10 to 40, with symptoms being reported in urban, parkland, farmland and woodland environments.

Most incidents are based in the Midlands but mapping work at Forest Research has revealed increasing symptoms in the South East and Wales.

Arboriculture Association trustee Jon Heuch pointed out that with limited resources it was vital to raise funding for further research into the disease because not enough was known about it. "We really need a better idea of how widespread the problem is and to find out exactly how it is spreading," he said.

"There are hotspots where groups of trees are succumbing to the disease and that could potentially have a major impact on our landscapes," he warned.

KeyStat

£45k - The amount of funding required for continued research into acute oak decline in Britain.


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