As Defra Secretary of State Owen Paterson prepares to meet the Forestry Commission (this weekend) to consider what action to take to control Ash dieback disease Chalara fraxinea, Somerset Wildlife Trust urges members and supporters to report potential sightings of infected trees, in the hope that the ecological impacts of this devastating disease can be minimised.
Introduce a mandatory ban on imports
In a letter sent today to the Secretary of State, René Olivieri, Chair of The Wildlife Trusts, said that it is clearly very disappointing that failure to ban the import and movement of ash trees has resulted in the disease spreading into the natural environment and one of Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves - and encourages the Secretary of State to:
· Introduce a mandatory ban on imports of ash trees to prevent more disease entering the country and on the movement of ash trees around the country;
· Assess how far the disease has spread and halt it from spreading further around Britain;
· Set up an Emergency Summit, to co-ordinate action to halt the spread of the disease, to bring together appropriate scientists, commercial interests and representatives of landowning bodies including conservation organisations.
Woodlands that support rare species
René Olivieri, Chair of The Wildlife Trusts, said:
“We are concerned about the spread of this disease as the 47 Wildlife Trusts around the UK manage around 93,000 ha of land which includes woodland. It now seems likely that the disease is present at Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve, Lower Wood Ashwellthorpe, an ancient woodland and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
“Ash trees, as hedgerow and field trees, are an important feature in our landscape and also a key component of ecologically unique woodlands that support rare species. For example, upland ashwoods, such as those in the Peak District, support rare woodland flowers, a rich invertebrate fauna and important lichens. Their loss would have a dramatic negative impact on our natural environment.”
How to report potential disease
The Forestry Commission has produced a pictorial guide for this purpose and a pest alert with more information on the disease.
Please report suspected cases of the disease to:
• Forest Research Disease Diagnostic Advisory Service
T: 01420 23000; E:
• Forestry Commission Plant Health Service
T: 0131 314 6414; E: email@example.com
• Fera Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate
T: 01904 465625; E:
Photo: Ash die back diseased leaf cpt Steve Collin Norfolk Wildlife Trust