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The specific objectives of Forest Research in the Living Ash Project are to establish new genetic trials to whether, and to what extent, tolerance of ash trees to damage caused by ash dieback is governed by genetics. The genetic trials will enable us to understand how much responses vary among families, whether breeding trees will incur a cost for tree growth and form and explore whether and how this changes over time.
Results from the trials will help determine the scope for breeding as a solution to the ash dieback problem.
The trees used for these genetic trials were raised from seed collected from improved ash seed orchards, so are related to those already planted under the existing ash breeding programme. Forest Research are also developing tissue culture techniques to enable us to rapidly produce large numbers of any tolerant trees identified, for use in future reforestation.
A final strand of this project, which is run by the Future Trees Trust, will use citizen science to screen the wider ash population in native and planted woodlands, streets and hedgerows. The objective is to produce trees that show good tolerance to the fungus, and plant them on the public forest estate as an archive which can then be made available to the forest industry.
This project entered its second phase in 2019 with additional financial support from DEFRA.
The objectives of LAP2 are to:
LAP2 is funded by DEFRA and runs from 2019-2024.
Forest Research leads two work packages in the Living Ash Project phase II.
In work package 1, we will maintain and monitor the mass screening trials and progeny trials established under earlier projects. Following a reassessment of all sites in 2024, we will select outstanding trees and replicate these by grafting for inclusion within the National Archive of Tolerant Ash.
In work package 4 we will perform intensive controlled inoculation trials to screen selected trees to verify levels of tolerance, using two methods:
Establish new progeny trials:
Tissue Culture techniques:
Testing for tolerance to ash die-back across various ash species.