Britain’s oak trees have been hit by a mystery disease that is causing them to ‘bleed to death' and ministers have set aside more than £1 million to tackle it.
Thousands of the trees have already been felled and their bark stripped and burnt to prevent the disease spreading and killing more of the ancient oaks.
Oak trees more than 50 years old are believed to be most at threat by the mystery disease, which is identified by ‘dark weeping patches’ on the stems of older trees. Once it takes hold of an oak the disease is believed to kill it within four years, and researchers are said to be in a race against time to try and stop the spread.
The Government is spending £1.1 million on an emergency project to try and save thousands of the oak trees by identifying the cause of the disease.
“It is affecting older trees, some hundreds of years old, and whatever is behind it is causing the decline of something that has been here for so long, is much loved, and is difficult, if not impossible, to replace," said Dr James McDonald, from Bangor University.