Fungus will change the look of the countryside but resistant varieties could be the future
Around 90% of the UK's ash trees will be lost as the result of the Chalara fraxinea (ash dieback) fungus, experts believe. But the surviving trees, which are resistant to the fungus, could eventually be used for repopulation.
Dr Anne Evans from the John Innes centre in Norwich said, when interviewed on BBC Radio 4 last month, '90% of ash trees might go over the next 15 years. Some will go quite quickly, maybe 50% might die very quickly but then others will go on 15 years maybe before perhaps succumbing and then others we are hoping will go on completely unperturbed and these are the ones you would rely on to repopulate our countryside.'
She added, 'We have to find varieties or individuals that will live quite happily with the fungus, that will tolerate the fungus. Here in John Innes we are collaborating with labs all over the UK and some on the continent and we are all working towards trying to understand how some ash trees are dealing with the fungus, living quite happily with it and others are just dying at the first whiff of it if you like.'
Work is taking place to look at resistant individuals, but also at resistant species.