Woodland Trust needs £1m in government funding to bypass EU delays in creating a project to monitor and protect the UK’s trees and woods from further devastation by disease.

Ash dieback could wipe out as much as 90 per cent of the UK’s 80 million ash trees.

Ash is the third commonest tree and its loss would devastate the landscape. The disease has swept Europe and should never have been allowed to arrive here on imported trees. Along with the government, nurseries, the Forestry Commission and other land managers, the Woodland Trust should have investigated the supply chain more thoroughly, uncovered this threat and worked hard to challenge it. They are determined to ensure this will never happen again.

They have a project to bring scientists and the public together to monitor and protect the UK’s trees and woods. But it can’t progress until summer 2013 as it’s dependant on EU funding, which is not even guaranteed. They want the government to bypass the EU and fund it themselves.

It’s a £2million project. Together with the National Trust, Forestry Commission and the Food and Environment Research Agency, they’ve already committed £1million and now want the government to close the funding gap with an immediate investment of £1million.

Their website announces:

"We will begin long-term investment in UK nurseries to ensure every tree we use from now on is UK-sourced and grown, removing all risk of importing further disease. We will also work closely with community and voluntary tree nurseries to the same end.

We will host a major conference to discuss knowledge, issues and impact of ash disease and wider tree health risks on conservation, with input from international specialists."