Friday, 5 October 2012

Woodland Trust: A Ban On Imports Of Ash Trees As Early As November?

 We said that we would give you an update on ash dieback as the situation develops. The disease causes leaf loss and has already killed millions of trees in parts of mainland Europe.

The Woodland Trust took the lead on calling for an immediate ban on the import of ash trees. We are pleased that our stance has gained such a positive response in such a short time frame.

Yesterday Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson said that a ban on imports of ash trees to combat the threat of the tree disease Chalara fraxinea could be in place as early as November. Owen Paterson stated:
"This disease could have a devastating impact on our native ash trees so we need to take action to stop it. We are working towards a ban on imports, and looking to impose movement restrictions on trees from infected areas."
This growing crisis shows how important it is for the government to adopt the independent panel report's recommendations around accelerated action on tree diseases. A consultation on managing the threat to the UK's ash trees is due to end on 26 October. Details of the consultation document can be found here.

It is possible that a ban could come into force before the main planting season gets underway in mid November, which would be a really positive step. The Government will work with the industry and those that grow or trade in ash plants to minimise the impact a ban will have on their businesses.

Norman Starks, our UK Operations Director in response said:
"This is not a minute too soon. The Trust called for a full immediate ban on imported ash trees last week and welcomes the consultation. We expect a decision to be made swiftly and decisively following the 26 October deadline before the tree planting season starts. The Trust will no longer plant imported ash trees on our estate and is reducing the number of ash to be planted this season by 100,000 trees. We are committed to working with the industry to do everything possible to prevent the further spread of ash dieback and protect one of the nation's most common native trees."
The Government went on to state that all infected trees are being destroyed. Ash trees in the vicinity of infected sites are also being monitored by the Plant Health Authority to ensure early detection of the disease.

Further information about Chalara fraxinea is available on the Forestry Commission's website here

If you suspect any cases of the disease please report them to the Forestry Commission Plant Health Service on 0131 314 6414.

We are pleased with how the discussions are progressing so far and will be in touch again with you once we understand the outcome of the consultation. Thank you for your continued support.

Yours faithfully,

Sue Holden
Woodland Trust