The Woodland Trust has been working alongside the University of Worcester to better understand ash dieback, and has allowed the university to install machines in its Londonthorpe Wood, near Grantham, to search for spores that cause the disease.
The machines (pictured) effectively suck in the air on to filters. These filters will then be analysed for the genetic signature of hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus – the fungal spore that causes ash dieback. The filters will even be on a timer so that the spores can be monitored at different times of the day.
Ash dieback originated in mainland Europe, but spread to UK woods in 2012. There is currently no sustainable cure for the disease, and it is now very common in south and east Lincolnshire. Other parts of the research include regular visits to other Woodland Trust woods affected by the disease – including Sleaford Wood, High Wood and Tattershall Carrs.
Ian Froggatt, site manager for the Woodland Trust, said: “Londonthorpe Wood has already seen early signs of ash dieback, which is a worrying development. However we are trying to make the most out of a bad situation, and hope the University of Worcester’s research will give us better insight into how ash dieback spreads, and therefore how it can be contained.”
Roy Kennedy, professor of aerobiology and microbial science at the University of Worcester, added: “The research work supported by the Woodland Trust and funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (Living With Environmental Change initiative) at Londonthorpe wood will help to predict the development and spread of Ash die back in UK woodlands. This information will lead to the development of strategies to limit the impact of this devastating tree disease.”
Londonthorpe Wood was planted in 1993 and has since developed into a haven for wildlife. Tree species at the wood include ash, oak, birch and field maple. Its large network of paths also make it a great place for families and dog walkers.
The trust is now urging the public to make sure they clean their shoes after leaving the wood, as it can help prevent the spread of diseases.
The trust has also launched a new initiative encouraging people to become a ‘Guardian of the Woods’ to help look after their local woodland and wildlife. Find out more.