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24 October 2012
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.”