Action for Ash
Added: 31st October 2012A leading wildlife charity is urging the Government to take action as soon as possible to prevent the spread of a disease which could be devastating to Britain’s iconic ash trees.
‘Ash dieback’ (Chalara fraxinea) is a fungal disease, which has already devastated ash woodlands in other parts of northern Europe, and has now been found in trees in Suffolk, Norfolk and Buckinghamshire.
It is estimated that ash trees make up around 30% of England’s woodland cover and the thousands of miles of hedgerows which knit our landscapes together. Devon Wildlife Trust’s Chief Executive, Harry Barton said:
“This could be the biggest threat to our woodlands in modern times. It is essential that we learn lessons from the tragedy of Dutch elm disease and act now to coordinate effort to contain this threat and to protect our woodlands”
Last week Defra Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, announced measures to control the spread of the disease. The Wildlife Trusts have urged him to enforce the ban on ash imports and to bring together appropriate scientists, commercial interests, conservation organisations and representatives of landowning bodies to plan an urgent strategy to prevent ‘ash dieback’ from causing long term damage to the countryside.
Harry Barton said:
“In the Netherlands we’ve seen 80% of ash trees affected. We must not let this happen here. If Government and their agencies act decisively now we may be able to check the spread of the disease.”
The symptoms of ash die back disease are leaf loss and dieback of the tree’s crown. Devon Wildlife Trust is currently planning how it will manage this threat within its own reserves, but is urging members of the public to be vigilant and, if anyone suspects that they have seen cases of ash die back, to contact the Forestry Commission Plant Health service on 0131 314 6414.
More details about Ash dieback disease can be found on DWT's FAQ webpage and on the Forestry Commission's website here