The Scottish Government’s approach to combatting ash dieback has been outlined today at a stakeholder meeting chaired by the Environment Minister. The Scottish Wildlife Trust has welcomed the approach. As a land manager with over 40 woodland sites in Scotland, there is a key role for the Trust to play in resisting the disease, which is caused by the Chalara fraxinea fungus.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Head of Policy Dr. Maggie Keegan attended the summit at the Scottish Parliament. Speaking afterwards, she said:
“We are pleased that the Scottish Government’s approach to combatting ash dieback is based on the best available science on this potentially devastating disease and not just a knee jerk reaction. We are reassured that there is specific reference to the importance of preserving mature trees, which are more resistant to the disease. We hope this is a long term commitment. As a land manager with over 40 woodland sites we will play our part in looking out for diseased and resistant trees. Resistant trees hold the key to the long term survival of ash in Scotland.
“However we do need to learn from past mistakes. 40 years ago, Dutch Elm Disease wiped out 30-50 million elms in the UK, yet today we are still putting native ash trees at risk by importing nursery trees from countries already ravaged by this pathogen.
“We need a strong biosecurity plan along with protection for our species-rich woodlands. Together, this will enable the landscape to bounce back more quickly from these potentially devastating attacks.”