(ORDO NEWS) — The British conservation organization National Trust has warned of a catastrophic increase in tree diseases due to climate change. Populations of ash and larch trees are threatened with significant declines, according to The Guardian.
The charity has released aerial photographs showing how deforestation for pest and disease control is reshaping the UK landscape. For example, tens of thousands of larches will be felled due to the spread of the Phytophthora ramorum virus, which causes an incurable disease in trees, ecologists predicted.
This will change the landscape at Tarn House in the Lake District in the mountainous region of northwest England, where logging of diseased and neighboring larches has been going on for several years. The population of this tree is predicted to decline by three quarters in some places.
It is also expected that 75-95 percent of the UK ash population will be lost within 20-30 years. About 30,000 dying ash trees are due to be felled in British forests this year alone. However, the cost of removing diseased trees has risen from £ 1 million to £ 3 million (just under $ 4 million) over the year, and subsequent population recovery will also require resources.
The reason for the appearance of wood pests and diseases is said to be a change in weather conditions. In the fall of 2021, two new threats to plant health were identified in the UK – a disease caused by the pathogen Phytophthora pluvialis and a new outbreak of the eight-pronged spruce bark beetle.
They were discovered in the south-east of England, which entailed restrictions on the movement of timber around the country. Scientists are also preparing for the emergence of the xylella bacteria, which can cause severe stress and death in more than 150 plant species, including oak, cherry, holly and walnut. It has not yet affected the UK, but large outbreaks have occurred elsewhere in Europe, devastating olive groves.
In addition, many trees fall prey to extreme weather events such as Storm Arwen, which swept through parts of England in late November. The National Trust stressed that new trees need to be planted in place of the dead trees to combat further climate change, as trees absorb carbon dioxide and are home to wildlife.
To prevent deforestation, the organization is trying to create “forests of the future” that are resilient to climate change, including by planting species from warmer climates that are less likely to be affected by disease, such as replacing ash trees with walnuts.
Earlier, the Climate Change Committee accused the UK authorities of insufficiently adapting to changing climatic conditions, and the Environmental Audit Committee accused the UK government of ineffective environmental policy.
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