The future of British Oak trees being killed off from diseases and pests is causing real concern to the future of these magnificent and ancient trees.
One disease in particular known as Acute Oak Decline found in the Midlands is now leading experts to question whether the disease could have a similar impact and spread as rapidly as the notorious tree killer Dutch Elm disease.
“There has been a concern about increasing pests and diseases over a number of years. There are the obvious PhytophthoraÂ diseases, particularly in the south-west of England, which are huge threat to commercial timber”, said Dr Kirby, the UK’s top tree expert from Natural England.
Phytophthora diseases are strains of a deadly fungal plant disease that quickly kills trees it infects and able to spread rapidly covering Â large areas in short spaces of time unless strict quarantine measures are exacted.
“It is also attacking Bilberry bushes so it is a concern to us in conservation terms of ground flora. There are also other diseases, particularly Acute Oak Decline (AOD), which seems to be caused by a bacterium but a bit more research is needed to confirm that this is causing the death of oaks in woodlands throughout the Midlands and South.
“At the moment, it is at relatively low levels but at the back of the minds of everyone is whether we have another Dutch Elm DiseaseÂ on our hands.
“Despite its common name Â Sudden Oak Death, there have been no recorded cases of an English oak (Quercus robur) being infected“, added Dr Kirby ahead of his presentation at the British Ecological Society’sÂ annual meeting in Sheffield, UK.
Many worried leading professionals along with conservation groups are expressing grave concerns that if the disease were to get a foothold in the Nation’s woodlands that the country’s landscape would irrevocably change forever.
Oak trees in Britain are known to live for hundreds of years. One of the most legendary trees in the UK is the Major Oak Â in Sherwood Forest, Notts. If the Legend of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men is anything to go by this famous tree would be thousands of years old. But alas, according to experts the magnificent specimen is 800-years-old.