Friday, 2 November 2012
Ash dieback. Warm knees may be the only consolation.
Despite the impression you get looking out across the Weald from Leith Hill, England is not a very heavily wooded country but we seem to have a particular affection for the patchwork of hedgerows and small stands of hardwood that make up the English landscape. The news about the spread of ash dieback disease is very sad and unless some kind of treatment can be found the ash could well go the way of our elms. The import of ash saplings has been blamed for the spread of the disease and no doubt there is something in this. From bubonic plague onward nothing aids the spread of pests and diseases quite as much as trade and protecting people and crops becomes ever more difficult as the web of globalisation expands. We can do what we can to try and halt the spread of ash dieback but nature will probably take it's course. If there is a program of felling one small consolation will be the abundance of the very best firewood. Apart from being the timber of choice for manufacturing tool handles, nothing burns quite like an ash log but whether the satisfaction of putting another one in the stove will be enjoyed by future generations is open to question.