Moves to save England’s oaks
GOVERNMENT scientists are being asked for their advice on how to avert a serious threat to that symbol of Englishness, the oak tree, which is under a twin-pronged attack from overseas.
Sudden oak death, a fungus infestation which can kill even mature oaks within a matter of weeks, has already been discovered in some 600 sites, mainly in the south of England . It in Asia and is thought to have been brought in on imported timber.
But a similar disease has taken a much greater hold on the USA and scientists fear that this could also be brought to the UK in American imports. If the two similar strands of the disease interbred, the result could be a major killer like Dutch elm disease, which wiped out an estimated 25 million trees in the last decades of the 20th Century.
Lord Rooker, the Environment Minister, will this week make a formal announcement on planned measures to protect English oaks, which could include a ban on American timber imports.