An immediate ban on the import and movement of ash trees, announced last week by environment minister Owen Paterson, may not be enough to stop ash dieback from having a devastating impact on Britain?s countryside.

That stark warning came from professor Ian Boyd, DEFRA?s scientific adviser, who has been put in charge of a Government task force to tackle the disease.

Professor Boyd commented: ?Ecologically it is going to change the countryside significantly. Parallels have been made with Dutch elm disease of the 1970s ? in general, this is not good news for the countryside.?

Ash dieback, caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea, leads to leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees, and has already killed trees in mainland Europe.

In an attempt to control the disease, 100,000 trees in the UK have been burned, but the Forestry Commission confirmed last week that 29 sites, many in East Anglia, have now been affected.

The rest of this article appears in the 7th November issue of Shooting Times.

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