Laura Sharman 07 May 2019

Tree disease to cost economy £15bn

Ash dieback will cost the UK economy £15bn, researchers have calculated.

The research, published by the University of Oxford, Fera Science, Sylva Foundation and the Woodland Trust, has outlined the cost of clearing up dead and dying trees, and the resulting loss of services such as water and air purification.

The total cost of the disease will be 50 times larger than the annual value in live plants to and from Britain they found.

Dr Louise Hill, researcher at Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford and lead author of the study, said: 'Nobody has estimated the total cost of a tree disease before, and we were quite shocked at the magnitude of the cost to society.

'We estimate the total may be £15bn – that’s a third more than the reported cost of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in 2001. The consequences of tree diseases for people really haven’t been fully appreciated before now.'

The scientists are calling for a nationwide replanting scheme to cut the cost by £2.5bn and preventing the introduction of other non-native diseases.

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