Another tree disease is threatening to wipe out one of Britain’s most treasured species.

A sweet chestnut tree (credit: Wikimedia)

Arboriculture experts are calling for a ban on imported sweet chestnut trees – to halt the spread of sweet chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica).

The fungal disease has hit two sites in Warwickshire and Essex. Around 180 trees have been destroyed.

It follows the import of infected trees from France in 2011.

Sweet chestnut blight has proved to be fatal to European and North American sweet chestnuts. In the first half of the 20th century, it killed millions of trees in eastern America.

The Horticultural Trades Association’s Tim Briercliffe said the disease does not appear to be as aggressive as ash dieback, but said more sweet chestnut trees may be planted as people steered clear of ash.

Tim warned: “Demand for sweet chestnut is likely to increase. We support an import ban to prevent the disease from spreading.”