By 2005 the full scale of the disaster was becoming apparent, and by then it was pretty obvious that it was a mystery fungus and there was no way of stopping it.As Danish scientists did their research, they were horrified to discover that unbeknown to them it had been killing Poland’s ash trees since 1992, spreading into the Baltic states and Sweden towards them.
A tiny number of trees seem to be immune to the fungus — perhaps as few as 120 in the entire country, Mrs Olrik believes, although possibly more.A curious symptom is the hundreds of new twigs that sprout vertically from boughs.Scientists think they are an attempt by the ash to produce healthy growth once the main body of the tree is infected.Anders Grube, 53, believes 250 acres of trees have been lost in the 10,600 acre forest he manages a couple of hours drive south of Gribskov.He calculates that the coming of the fungus has cost roughly 10 million Danish krone (£1.1 million), profit lost to the private school which owns the estate.
You date Gribskov
Scientists now think the disease is spread by fungus on dead leaves which lie on the ground all winter, then produce spores between July and September which are carried by the wind.The disease probably travels through the countryside at about 20 miles per year.The forest of Gribskov is magnificent in autumn, its foliage a glorious tapestry of red, gold and yellow.It is Denmark’s biggest, a former royal hunting ground north of Copenhagen full of squirrels, deer and birds.One of these precious specimens, straight and about 70 feet tall, lies at the edge of the dead trees in Gribskov forest, unaffected so far and still in leaf.
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The tree has S15 painted on its trunk — S stands for Sundhed, meaning healthy in Danish.
The fungus has been a disaster for Denmark’s foresters, wiping out the most valuable timber they grow.
The Danish Forest Association believes it has cost their members around £30 million.
It looks much as it must have done to the Danish kings centuries ago; an enchanting wild place full of ancient trees.
Which makes it deeply unsettling to walk through rustling leaves into a patch of 40 or so dead and dying trunks, most upright, some toppled; the diseased remains of what was only three years ago the biggest stand of healthy ash in a forest of beech and oak.