We were honoured to have our very own Nic Snell invited to appear on ITV News last week as one of the spokesmen for Woodsure’s Buy British wood campaign. The aim is to stop diseased wood being imported from Europe and increasing the risk of many of the UK’s native species being wiped out.
Britain’s trees are under threat from pests and diseases coming into the country via imported firewood logs purchased to heat our homes. One of the most noted threats is the emerald ash borer, a beetle which has already devastated woodlands across America and Europe. In a post-Brexit Britain, Andrew Harvey founder of Woodsure and director of Grown in Britain, is calling on consumers to ‘buy British’ logs to help protect our woodlands and biosecurity.
With the rise in popularity of wood-burning stoves – around 300,000 have been purchased in the last two years – many homeowners are buying their logs online which are often imported from overseas. Little do they know, that at the click of the button they could actually be putting the UK’s woodlands at risk of devastating diseases and pests.
The emerald ash borer (EAB) beetle is one such pest that has the potential to wipe out the UK’s ash trees. Native to Asia, the insect has killed tens of millions of trees across Russia, Canada and the United States since it was discovered in Ontario in 2002. It is estimated that costs for treatment, removal and replacement of trees affected by emerald ash borer in Canadian municipalities alone, may reach $2 billion over a 30-year period.*
Whilst the EAB beetle hasn’t yet been found in the UK, the threat is very real and it could arrive on our shores in a matter of days in logs that have been imported. Last year, the amount of firewood imported into the UK was equal to £7 million. While native trees have immunity and are protected against UK insects and diseases, they have no natural defenses against foreign ones. With little to stop them, foreign bugs quickly reproduce and in no time at all and have the power to kill any trees in their path.
Commenting on the buy British message, Nic Snell said:
“The health of our local woodland, which has a particularly high proportion of ash, is crucial to us all. This is a major threat and we ask all wood fuel users to ask more questions about the origin and quality of their firewood.”