Fears for woods grow over ash dieback

The number of British woods suffering from ash dieback has almost tripled in two years, new figures reveal.

There is particular concern for Sussex which is a stronghold for the native tree.

Almost 1,000 sites across the UK have now been affected by the disease, which was first detected in 2012.

Government Ministers are now focusing on slowing the spread of the disease and developing varieties of ash tree that are resistant to the fungus.

Experts now believe 
ash dieback, which is known as Chalara, is unstoppable and will ultimately spread across the entire country.

The disease will wipe out the natural habitats hundreds of animals and birds, including wood mice, wrens, bats, bullfinches and beetles.

New figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show the number of infected sites in the UK had risen from 323 at end of 2012 to 949 at the end of 2014.

Restrictions on the movement of ash plants were introduced in 2012.

The disease causes leaves to blacken and branches die.