Threat to trees is ‘immediate and real’

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THERE was standing room only as people wanting to protect the health of trees and woods in the South Downs attended a public meeting.

The forum was organised by the South Downs National Park Authority and the Forestry Commission amid growing concerns about diseases threatening tree species such as elm, oak and ash.

The conference was held at West Dean, near Chichester.

Nina Williams, who leads on woodland and forestry for the authority, said: ‘Many people don’t know the South Downs has more trees than any other national park in England or Wales – enough to completely cover the Isle of Wight.

‘Not only are woodlands a much-loved place to escape to in this busy part of the country, but they also have the potential to contribute £22.8m per year to the local economy. Threats to the long-term health of our woodlands such as Chalara dieback of ash are an immediate and real concern. It was great to see woodland owners, woodland businesses, larger estates and councils all wanting to understand these threats.’