Oak, it’s part of being British. It conjures up everything from Merlin, to Drakes warships, to dark forests, roof structures and strong front doors. How many times have you heard someone say “it’s by the old oak” when giving directions to a location? Probably everyone can spot an oak and many sketch one.
Recently just about every political party has decided that planting trees is a good thing for the environment. The trouble is that politically driven targets often ignore some of the potential consequences.
According to the Horticultural Trades Association ( article )millions of oak trees are being imported for planting in the UK. In general, when people see a sign proclaiming “oak trees for sale” they don’t ask where it came from. As a consequence, we are in danger of:
- Importing disease from the tress themselves and the soil in which they stand.
- Reducing the density of our native species and associated habitats.
Back in 2010 there were approximately 200 million oak trees in the UK, over ten years we may have already introduced more than 5% non-native species. Acute Oak Decline (AOD) which is believed to be a disease caused by high levels of airborne nitrogen pollution places is resulting in more demand for planting.
Maybe, trees being sold should now be subject to a simple legislative labelling similar to foods? i.e. “British Native species” or “Non-Native Species” and sellers educated on the differences?