More Ash Dieback Sites In South East

A disease threatening to devastate the UK's native ash trees has now been found in 115 sites, the Environment Department (Defra) said on Wednesday.

Cases of Chalara ash dieback have been confirmed in woodlands in six more counties - Sussex , Berkshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Bedfordshire and Northumberland - in addition to Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent and Essex where it had already been identified in the countryside.

The latest figures show the disease has been found in 61 locations in the wider countryside, as well as 39 planting sites and 15 tree nurseries, a total of 115 sites in all.

The results of an intensive survey by hundreds of officials over the weekend and this week comes as Environment Secretary Owen Paterson holds a summit with representatives of industry, conservation groups and experts to discuss the problem.

The Chalara fraxinea fungus, which causes leaf loss and crown dieback and can lead to tree death, has wiped out 90% of ash trees in some parts of Denmark and is becoming widespread throughout central Europe.

There are fears that the UK's ash trees are facing a similar fate to its elms, which were destroyed by Dutch elm disease in the 1970s

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