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The fungal threat to Brit businesses

posted 9 Nov 2012, 07:20 by Mpelembe   [ updated 9 Nov 2012, 07:22 ]

Reuters Business Report - An ancient craft and one which Carole Pearce has turned into a successful business.

She makes arrows used in the sport of archery.

But the ashwood that goes to make them is being attacked by a deadly fungal disease.

It's known as ash dieback and it's threatening millions of Britain's native ash trees.

So far 115 sites across the UK are known to have been affected.

Scientists are predicting things will get worse, raising fears.


"It will put several people out of work and will affect me, especially if we can't go into woodland. Because most of my arrows are used for field archery which is of course woodland archery. If that stops, that will be the end of the business."

Dieback is caused by a fungus called Chalara fraximea.

Experts believe it was blown in from mainland Europe, carried on spores.

It can be easily spread by walkers carrying the fungus on their boots.

Affected trees turn black and eventually die.

Mike Ryder from the Woodland Trust says the disease has already devastated parts of France, Belgium and Denmark.


"Potentially 90 percent of the ash trees have died off. Within this country it will significantly change not just our ancient woodlands but other woodlands in there, so our whole landscape could be changed."

Last month the government introduced a ban on imports of ash trees from mainland Europe.

And the planting of new ones have been stopped.

But for some the action has come too late.

One nursery was forced to destroy 50,000 ash trees.

Now it's considering suing the government for not acting sooner.


"What would be good for the government is to actually begin to tighten up our imports of planted stock. So with that some sort of plant passport so we know exactly where everything has come from, it's very easily traceable, if it is infected it can be traced back very very quickly back to the infected nursery."

The government has published a detailed plan for tackling the disease.

It accepts it's too late to eradicate it altogether - there's no cure for dieback.

But by targetting the cause at least, businesses like Carole's will have a better chance of survival.