24 Oct 2012 08:29
Chalara ash dieback confirmed in mature Woodland Trust woodland 24/10/12
Woodland Trust says UK Summit is needed to tackle tree diseases
In response to the Forestry Commission announcement that Chalara ash dieback has been found in the woods and hedgerows of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Woodland Trust can confirm that the disease has been found in both the mature ancient woodland and woodland creation areas on its estate at Pound Farm in Suffolk. The conservation organisation is currently carrying out further investigations at its other sites.
The Trust still strongly supports a Government ban on the import and movement of all ash trees for planting until it is clear to the extent of this outbreak and how it has arrived in the UK and is asking Government scientists to give urgent and clear advice to all woodland owners on how to manage the disease. The Trust will do all it can to mitigate spread in line with Government instructions and advice.
If no action is taken, in the medium term the common ash could be condemned. The implications for the survival of ash in the wider landscape suggest it could go the same way as the elm and all but disappear from the UK landscape.
The time has come for an emergency summit to agree action to tackle the problem of tree diseases, before we lose another native species for good.
Andrew Sharkey, Head of Woodland Management for the Woodland Trust, said: “Losing ash within the UK landscape would have serious implications to both the ecology, culture and landscape of our countryside. This is yet another example of why the protection of our native trees, natural resources and eco-systems needs to be at the top of the agenda and we need a step change in the level of importance placed on bio-security to tackle the bigger issue. The occurrence of tree diseases in the UK is becoming far too frequent and once they are established we are often powerless to act.”
“We are potentially facing the ash equivalent of Dutch elm disease, and unless we take serious measures as a country we will continue to see problems arising from imported diseases.”
“If this was a case of foot and mouth there would be immediate emergency measures put in place to deal with it. We need an emergency task force or summit set up by Government immediately to help deal with current threats and to stop any future threats before they arrive in the UK. We must focus our minds, time, and resources towards these issues and the Government has to act on its own Action Plan for Tree Health and Plant Bio security plan which states that protecting the UK through import controls is a priority. If ever there was a time when we all need to work together for the future of the countryside this is it.”
Notes to Editors:
Ash Dieback (Chalara Fraxinea)
• The situation is already dire in central Europe with some 90 per cent of ash trees in Demark and 80% of ash stands in Poland affected and it is becoming widespread throughout central Europe. The disease has been observed to spread upto 20-30km per annum once established.
• A high risk pathway for the disease entering the UK is on imported ash saplings from areas of Europe. The Woodland Trust is therefore calling for an immediate mandatory ban across the UK on importing ash trees in a last-chance bid to help prevent the destructive disease dieback of ash becoming established in the UK.
• The Woodland Trust will no longer plant imported ash trees and has taken the decision not to plant ash on the majority of its estate or advocate its planting by others this year.
• It is estimated that 15% of UK broadleaved woodland is made up of ash which is found across woodlands, parks and hedgerows. Some woodland across the UK is virtually made up wholly of ash. It is a species that is excellent for biodiversity, but is also used widely for timber products. Ash timber is traditionally used for making furniture and tools, makes exceptional firewood and barbecue charcoal. Ash is the third most common broadleaf tree within our woodland.
• The ash dieback outbreak has been found at the Woodland Trust site Pound Farm, near Great Glenham in Suffolk. The site was purchased by the Trust in 1992 and is around 90ha in size and is a mix of new native plantings and existing ancient woodland.
For more information visit the Forestry Commission website: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara
For more information contact:
About Woodland Trust
The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity championing native woods and trees. It has more than 500,000 members and supporters and its three key aims are: i) to enable the creation of more native woods and places rich in trees ii) to protect native woods, trees and their wildlife for the future iii) to inspire everyone to enjoy and value woods and trees. Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,200 sites in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). Access to all Woodland Trust sites is free.