Ashes To Ashes?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s been pretty difficult not to have heard or read about ash dieback (Chalara), a disease threatening native ash trees throughout Britain. Chalara has been known on the continent since 1992 but only reached the UK in February this year on imported trees in a nursery in Buckinghamshire. It has now escaped into the wild and has been recorded at over 100 sites ranging from East Anglia to Scotland, including Dalbeattie.

Here’s the official government view:

“The scientific advice is that it won’t be possible to eradicate this disease now that we have discovered it in mature trees in Great Britain. However, that does not necessarily mean the end of the British ash. If we can slow its spread and minimise its impact, we will gain time to find those trees with genetic resistance to the disease and to restructure our woodlands to make them more resilient.”

So how can mountain bikers help?

We asked the Forestry Commission for advice on what actions riders can take to help minimise spread of the disease.

A spokesman from Forestry Commission Scotland said: “It’s very much business as usual at Dalbeattie and riders should keep riding the trails.  It is around the summer time when the Chalara spores become infectious so the likelihood of any transmission of the disease is very low indeed. All we would say is keep riding but just brush off any leaves or stalks off your bikes or your clothing. Apart from that… have a good time.”

The government is asking for citizen science to help record the spread of the disease so here’s some info on recognising the disease and a link to a handy app for your smartphone to record it.

Steve Scott, Area Director for the Forestry Commission, shows how to spot the tell-tale signs of ash dieback (Chalara fraxinea), the disease currently threatening Britain’s native ash trees. More info here: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara

If you want to help record the spread of the disease the AshTag app for Android can be downloaded here and for iOS here

There is a forum discussion you can contribute to here

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