Is there a solution for Ash Dieback in the UK?

Ash dieback

This morning several newly discovered cases of Chalara fraxinia, the ash dieback fungal disease, have been announced in Scotland. Including near Eyemouth in the Scottish Borders and near Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway. This is bad news indeed. The ash, Fraxinus excelsior, is the third most common native broadleaved tree in British woodlands. It provides 5% of our native forest cover and contributes massively to both the beauty and diversity of our landscape and our timber supply. It is the best tree for producing quality firewood and is also the source of high quality timber for the making of many products.

Perhaps the most disastrous consequence of this disease, however, is the impact on associated plants, animals and insects. Over 100 insect species are associated with Ash. 27 of these are known to be totally dependent on it. In turn, the Ash-related ecosystem supports deep-shade-intolerant woodland plants like our iconic bluebells and primroses. Plus other rare species like Enchanter’s Nightshade, the White Letter Hairstreak butterfly, the White Admiral butterfly, Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats and the Dormouse.

What’s the situation with Ash dieback?

From the number of cases now being reported, it seems we’re rapidly reaching a stage in the UK where containment may not be an option. Whatever we do, a high percentage of our native ash trees look set to disappear from our countryside and gardens. In Denmark, between 60 and 90% of ash trees have been destroyed by Chalara, so this is a very serious threat.

The source of many infected trees is from imports from abroad. Councils, among others, have sought the cheapest available trees for mass planting. They have bypassed UK-grown trees in favour of cheap ash saplings from abroad. Poor planting practices and woodland management have meant trees being planted too close together. Or not being properly weeded and managed, allowing disease to spread.

Officials were first warned about ash dieback by Scandinavian scientists at a conference in 2007. After which the Forestry Commission’s Head of Plant Health sent an alert to Defra, which was ignored. In fact, instead of heeding this warning, ministers instead cut back on funding for biosecurrity and research. Between 2004 and 2010 the monitoring and biosecurity budget was reduced by almost 60%.

Is there a solution to Ash Dieback for the UK?

Experts are already questioning the wisdom of the so-called ‘slash and burn solution’. Since there’s a danger of taking out resistant strains as well. (One can’t help thinking of parallels with the Foot and Mouth 100% cull policy, now so widely questioned.) Whilst young ash saplings in infected nurseries will all have to be destroyed, as will young trees in all infected areas. Since they are most susceptible, for mature trees the policy of destruction could be precisely the wrong way to go.

Swedish scientists, who have been studying the fungus for more than a decade, say such a policy of destruction could well be counterproductive. If we want native ash to continue to thrive, we should look closely at what has happened in places like Sweden. Here only a third of ash trees have died over the past decade. Apparently some are able to find an “equilibrium” with the fungus. Although infected, are able to overcome it and thrive. Such strains could hold the key to protecting ash by breeding their genotypes into saplings.

There are also fungicides which are known to be effective against other fungal tree diseases. Researchers are saying that it’s a fair bet that some of these will be effective against ash dieback. However, they would need to be trialled and registered before they could be used to treat Chalara-infected ash trees. Such process are generally lengthy, due to bureaucracy and funding issues. Isn’t it time the government restored a little of our faith by fast-tracking such research and development in order to try and save our ash trees?

Your basket is currently empty.

Return to shop

Quick guide to choosing the best Wood Fuel for your stove and lifestyle.

Wood Fuel Co-operative

*Break - We strongly recommend you break these briquettes in half (or less for very small stoves) because they do expand whilst burning and you don't want them to overfill the fire.
*Easy to light - We always use a Firelighter and Kindling Sticks to start our fires. Most briquettes are graded four stars to light because they are quite dense and require kindling.


  • All stove and flue combinations tend to have different burning characteristics. Fuel that works well in my stove may not work so well in your stove, and vice-versa.
  • Most modern stoves are more efficient than most older stoves, meaning a modern quality stove will burn fuel more economically and generate more heat over a longer period.
  • Always try to burn fuel with a 'lick of flame'. Smouldering fuel to try to extend burn time is bad for your stove, flue and the environment due to unburned particulate matter in the smoke.
  • Be prepared to break briquettes into smaller sections to fit into your stove comfortably. Many briquettes do expand whilst burning and you don't want them to expand onto the glass.
  • The chart above indicates which briquettes are easy to break. Some are small enough so they don't need breaking. This makes for a cleaner environment around your stove.
  • All briquettes, except Everyday Value and Hotmax, benefit hugely from using kindling to light them. I suggest five kindling sticks will be sufficient, meaning a net should last 30 days.

This website uses cookies
This site uses cookies to enhance your browsing experience. We use necessary cookies to make sure that our website works. We’d also like to set analytics cookies that help us make improvements by measuring how you use the site. By clicking “Allow All”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
These cookies are required for basic functionalities such as accessing secure areas of the website, remembering previous actions and facilitating the proper display of the website. Necessary cookies are often exempt from requiring user consent as they do not collect personal data and are crucial for the website to perform its core functions.
A “preferences” cookie is used to remember user preferences and settings on a website. These cookies enhance the user experience by allowing the website to remember choices such as language preferences, font size, layout customization, and other similar settings. Preference cookies are not strictly necessary for the basic functioning of the website but contribute to a more personalised and convenient browsing experience for users.
A “statistics” cookie typically refers to cookies that are used to collect anonymous data about how visitors interact with a website. These cookies help website owners understand how users navigate their site, which pages are most frequently visited, how long users spend on each page, and similar metrics. The data collected by statistics cookies is aggregated and anonymized, meaning it does not contain personally identifiable information (PII).
Marketing cookies are used to track user behaviour across websites, allowing advertisers to deliver targeted advertisements based on the user’s interests and preferences. These cookies collect data such as browsing history and interactions with ads to create user profiles. While essential for effective online advertising, obtaining user consent is crucial to comply with privacy regulations.