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European Trees Under Risk

Trees are such common features of the landscape that it is quite easy to take them for granted. They are just there, seemingly sturdy that maintenance is hardly thought about. However, trees should not be taken for granted since they are really giant filters that clean the air we breathe in everyday. They also clean the soil in a process called phytoremediation. They literally absorb harmful chemicals and pollutants from the soil and either store them up or convert them into less harmful forms. They are also good buffers from noise pollution and they serve as carbon sinks that help lessen global warming. To put things simply, the survival of humankind depends significantly on trees and their health.

With all of these being said, it is then alarming that tree diseases in 21st Century Europe are spreading rapidly. The diseases are so widespread that in UK alone, expenditures for researching into tree pests and diseases is steadily increasing.

Tree diseases in 21st Century Europe include the Phytophthora species that are relatively new to science. Theres also the Dutch elm disease or ophiostoma novo-ulmi, the chestnut blight or cryphonectria parasitica and canker stain disease of Platanus or Ceratocystis fimbriata f. platani.

If truth be told, these tree diseases actually operate internationally; hence, it is safe to say that they are not an isolated case.

Phytophthora - This was identified to have spread from the plant nursery trade, which is ironically one of the sources that people use to replace lost trees.

Dutch Elm Disease (DED) - Within two decades since its outbreak in the 1960s, DED had claimed at least 25 million trees in Britain alone. This tree disease was imported to Europe from Canada but Americans, on the other hand, say it came from Europe.

Chestnut Blight - This is a cambium-killing tree disease, which unwittingly came from Asia. Records show that the chestnut blight has destroyed about four billion American chestnuts in just a few decades.

Canker Stain Disease - This allegedly spread during World War II, starting from France and Italy, due to ammunition boxes brought from America.

According to findings, tree diseases in 21st Century Europe have spread partly due to the weakness of some trees in adapting to new disease strains. However, one major factor also involves human activity, which causes anthropogenic stress. This is something humankind should think about since these natural filters and shields from pollution and global warming are at stake. it is clearly important for the future prosperity of our gardens and countryside that modern planting ideas must take into account these diseases when planning gardens and significant areas for tree culture.

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