Trees in St Albans have been under attack for quite some time, with the likes of ash dieback (a very aggressive fungus) now fully established in the local area, while two years ago the township was the second place in the UK to see its sweet chestnut trees damaged by oriental chestnut gall wasps.
According to the Herts Advertiser, the removal and incineration of just nine of these trees cost the local council £52,000, which has prompted officers to warn councillors that the corporate risk now facing them as a result of an increasing number of pests and diseases that affect trees is severe.
“Prevention is not a realistic option or strategy. Until a better estimate has been reached regarding the number of trees the authority may have to deal with and over what timescale, costs are impossible to predict. The potential liability is anticipated to be over £10 million across a number of years,” a report from the Forestry Commission observed.
The gall wasp was first discovered here in the UK in Kent back in June 2015, with the St Albans site confirmed at a later date as well. A sure sign of a wasp infestation is growths (known as galls) forming on the buds, leaves and leaf stalks, left by activity of the wasps’ larvae. The galls start out green in colour when they first appear in March and then turn red or rose-coloured by June. The majority fall off the tree when the leaves do, although some attached to the stalks can stay on the tree for years.
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