Ash tree imports banned

All imports of ash trees have been banned and walkers are being asked to take precautions to stop the disease spreading.

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'Government's Tree Health Action Plan is not working'

The Country Land and Business Association president Harry Cotterell has warned that ash dieback is one of many diseases posing a threat to the survival of the UK's native trees.

The Government's Tree Health Action Plan is clearly not working.

Import controls need to be strengthened and the Government must react faster as tree pests and diseases are identified.

Investing in staff to help manage tree pests and diseases must be prioritised and money for research into how our trees can be made more resilient should be directed to Forest Research.

– The Country Land and Business Association president Harry Cotterell

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Ash tree fungus could 'significantly' change countryside

Professor Ian Boyd, who heads the government taskforce battling the ash tree crisis, has warned that the fungus spreading across Britain's countryside could have disastrous ecological consequences.

Ash tree
An ash tree leaf affected by the fungus sweeping across Britain. Credit: Norfolk Wildlife Trust

The chief scientific adviser at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told BBC Radio 4: "Ecologically it is going to change the countryside very significantly. Parallels have been made with Dutch elm disease of the 1970s. This is not good."

In the UK, ash trees make up around 30% of the wooded landscape, across woodlands, hedgerows and parks.

The fungus - which causes leaf loss and can lead to the death of the tree - wiped out 90% of ash trees in Denmark in just seven years and is becoming widespread throughout central Europe.

Imports of ash trees to be banned

Imports of ash trees are to be banned from today in an attempt to stop the spread of a disease which has devastated them in Europe.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said on Saturday he was "ready to go" with legislation to ban ash imports which have been blamed for introducing the Chalara fraxinea fungus to the UK.

I have already prepared the legislation and we are ready to go.

The evidence is clearly there. There will be a ban on Monday.

Ban on importing and moving ash trees imminent

The Woodland Trust confirmed that ash dieback has been found in both mature ancient woodland and woodland creation areas on its estate at Pound Farm in Suffolk.

Infected ash trees have also be identified at Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Lower Wood reserve, Ashwellthorpe. In the UK, ash trees make up around 30% of the wooded landscape, across woodlands, hedgerows and parks.

The Forestry Commission is suspending the planting of ash trees in public forests it manages and the Woodland Trust is supporting a ban on importing and moving ash trees in a bid to stop the disease becoming established in the UK, which the Government is poised to bring in as early as next week.

Woodland Trust: 'We must protect our native trees and natural eco-systems'

Andrew Sharkey, head of woodland management for the Woodland Trust, said losing ash trees would have serious implications for wildlife and the 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.

– Andrew Sharkey, Woodland Trust

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What is ash dieback?

Ash dieback is caused by the Chalara fraxinea fungus. The fungus causes leaf loss and crown dieback and can lead to tree death, has wiped out 90% of ash trees in Denmark in seven years and is becoming widespread throughout central Europe.

It is not known how the disease spreads, but it could be by insects or rain splash, over longer distances it is believed to be transferred by the movement of infected tree.

Symptoms of Chalara fraxinea can be visible on leaves, shoots and branches of affected trees and include:

  • In severe cases, the entire crown shows leaf loss and dieback
  • There may be the formation of dormant shoots under the bark on branches and the trunk
  • Foliage Leaves can suffer from wilting and black-brownish discoloration

More information on identifying and treating the disease is available on the Forestry Commission website.

European disease threat to British ash trees

The Forestry Commission has said that a disease which has devastated ash trees in Europe has been found in the UK countryside.

Autumn trees
Autumn colours as Ash trees face a threat from Europe Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Ash dieback had already been found in nurseries and recently planted sites including a car park, a college campus and a new woodland, but has now been found in the wider environment at sites in East Anglia.

Fears are growing that it could wreak the same kind of damage as Dutch elm disease in the 1970s.