Statement on Ash Dieback, Chalara fraxinea
Latest update 29.01.2013 11:11
Following the discovery of the deadly Ash Dieback Chalara fraxinea disease in the East of the country, we welcome the fact that the Government has now introduced the ban on the importation of ash trees into the UK which came into force on Monday 29 October.
We also see the need to provide sufficient investment into tree disease research and more restrictions on plant movement.
We're working closely with other key organisations and are prioritising the checking of ash trees thought to be currently the most at risk in the South East and East of the country.
Ian Wright, our plant health specialist said:
'We welcome the Government’s ban on the import of ash trees into the UK. We are very concerned about what effect this disease will have on a key historic species – and on our landscapes.
'As well as the high risk for country wide losses, we are particularly concerned about the significant number of our older ash trees. Many, over 300 years old, grow on National Trust land. If this devastating disease took hold it would radically change some of our most special landscapes and places forever as well as the wildlife these ash trees support which includes rare lichens, bryophytes and invertebrates.
'A high level focus on tree disease is needed with more funding made available by Government for urgent work on how diseases spread and how to develop greater resilience in our woods. We also believe there may be a need to put greater restrictions on International European trade in plants to reduce the risk of such disease spread.
'We are working closely with the Forestry Commission (FC), the Food & Environment Research Agency (Fera) and the Woodland Trust among many others to keep abreast of developments, and will take on board any guidance that is issued.
'We are currently checking the sites we believe to be at most risk in the South East and East of the country, prioritising where our most important ash trees are.
'We have already halted any planned ash tree planting on our land and are now weighing up the risk to ash trees of planting of other species that might be carrying the disease. Our outdoor teams are already undertaking surveys of their ash trees while leaves are still on them to see if any are showing signs of the disease. We will be referring any suspected cases to Fera and FC.
'We hope the Government will respond to the calls for an urgent summit to discuss ash dieback.'