25th January 2018

Sir Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of Ash Dieback on tree numbers in the UK; and if he will make a statement.

Dr Thérèse Coffey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment: The 2011 National Forestry Inventory estimated that there are 125.9 million ash trees in British woodlands (9% of the estimated 1.4 billion broadleaf trees in woodlands) and further research suggests that there are approximately 25-60 million ash trees in the wider environment (excluding 2 billion saplings). Evidence from continental Europe suggests that up to 90% of ash trees may become infected. As older trees can survive infection for a number of years and some trees may be tolerant to disease, we expect local effects on landscapes and woodlands to be gradual and mitigated by other tree species taking the place of ash. A proportion of ash trees will show natural tolerance to the disease and these trees are likely to repopulate sites, preserving the ash tree for future generations to enjoy.

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