News: Trust calls for 5 point plan to halt killer tree disease

25th October 2012

The Scottish Wildlife Trust has called for an emergency 5 point plan to prevent ‘ash dieback’ from decimating ash trees in Scotland. The killer disease was officially confirmed for the first time as being free in the UK’s natural environment today and its spread could be catastrophic for one of Scotland's most important 'keystone' tree species.  Many of our native species are dependent on ash, including birds like the bullfinch and butterflies such as the dingy skipper.

Ash dieback is caused by the Chalara fraxinea fungus and often leads to the death of the ash trees it affects. Defra today confirmed the diseases at two sites in East Anglia.

Earlier this year the disease was found at a Forestry Commission Scotland woodland at Knockmountain, near Kilmacolm, west of Glasgow.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust believes that emergency action is required now to halt the spread of the disease, which is a major threat to Scotland's and the UK's woodland ecosystems.

The Trust’s emergency 5 point plan is:

  1. Halting all imports of ash trees immediately
  2. A re-examination of how imported plants are checked for diseases
  3. Encouraging use of saplings from nurseries that source their trees locally or at least from the UK
  4. Allocating more funding into research into ash dieback and similar tree diseases
  5. Urging staff, volunteers and visitors to Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves to be vigilant and report ash dieback if it is suspected

Bruce Wilson from the Scottish Wildlife Trust said:

“In the second half of the 20th century we saw how Dutch elm disease transformed the British countryside by killing millions of elm trees. Ash dieback, if allowed to spread in the UK, could have the same catastrophic effects and we need to act quickly and decisively to prevent this from happening.”

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