Millions of ash trees are at risk of being wiped out by a deadly fungal disease.

At risk: an ash tree (credit: WikiMedia)

Ash dieback is a serious problem on the Continent, where it has been casing crown dieback and severe leaf loss in forest, park and garden ash trees.

Although it has not yet been discovered in the natural environment in Britain, it was recently intercepted in a consignment of infected trees, shipped from a nursery in Holland to a grower in southern England.

Ash is the fourth most common tree species and it is estimated that there are 80 million ash trees in the UK.

The Forestry Commission said ash dieback (Chalara fraxinea) is being treated as a “quarantine pest under national emergency measures”.

Suspected cases must be reported.

Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is the most frequently affected species but Fraxinus angustifolia can also succumb to the disease.

Go to www.forestry.gov.uk for more details.