Plan launched to tackle Ash tree disease

Ash tree
Ash tree

The Woodland Trust has pledged it’s commitment to tackle Ash tree disease by launching a three-point action plan.

As the Government holds an emergency summit to tackle the arrival and spread of ash dieback in the UK, the Woodland Trust publishes a three-point plan to make clear its ongoing commitment to the issue of tree disease as a whole.

Woodland Trust Chief Executive, Sue Holden said: “We are committed to tackling the growing threat of all tree pests and diseases in the UK and, by publishing this plan, we will continue to lead the fight for the future of our trees and woods. We will work collaboratively with specialists in the sector as well as involving the public in our mission.

“More specifically, by investing in UK tree nurseries we aim to stamp out any risk of importing further disease.

“The Woodland Trust has been working to raise awareness of these issues for a number of years and has drawn attention to the need to enforce stricter measures to stop the import and spread of tree disease. Until a tragedy such as ash dieback becomes a reality, it is difficult to impress upon people the importance of protecting the UK’s trees and the need to enforce stricter controls to prevent new pests and diseases entering the country.

“We also will fight to ensure that greater priority is given to trees and woods by Government. The situation regarding ash dieback is a sad reflection of the degree of priority that has been given to the protection and safeguarding of our natural woodland resources and of the environment as a whole. This must be immediately addressed.”

Three point plan

Bringing scientists and the public together to monitor and protect the UK’s trees and woods

Together with the Forestry Commission, the Food and Environment Research Agency, and the National Trust, the Woodland Trust has submitted a bid for funding to the EU LIFE fund (total value £2.5m) for a five-year project to enable tree health scientists to greatly extend their reach and knowledge of the health of the UK’s trees. By enlisting and supporting members of the public to become citizen scientists, we will be able to monitor and report on the health of trees across the UK, providing a comprehensive early warning system for tree pests and diseases.

We will not know the outcome of this bid until September 2013, and success is not guaranteed. Given the urgency of the current tree health crisis we can’t wait for the EU bidding process to run its course. We want to close the one million pound funding gap and implement this project now.

Growing our own

Our bold vision of doubling native woodland cover involves us buying hundreds of thousands of trees every year to plant on our own estate or to give or sell to others. Recent events have shown that we cannot have confidence in current supply chain processes. We intend to ensure that we can have 100% confidence that we plant only trees that are truly UK grown and are disease free. We will invest in UK tree nurseries, working closely with them over a long period of time to produce the trees we need, trees in which we can have 100% confidence. In parallel we will support, and/or invest in community and local tree nurseries to help to ensure that new tree planting is truly rooted in the community.

Keeping woodland alive

We will set up one or more events to bring together specialists from the UK, Europe and the wider world to share knowledge, and to help us to safeguard the conservation benefits of UK trees and woods in the face of an unprecedented wave of pests and diseases.

The Woodland Trust has already launched a public engagement campaign appealing to everyone who cares about woods and trees to join us in fighting for woodland protection by raising awareness and helping to get woods and trees higher up the Government’s agenda.

click here.

Ash Dieback (Chalara Fraxinea)

• The situation is already dire in central Europe with some 90 per cent of ash trees in Demark and 80% of ash stands in Poland affected and it is becoming widespread throughout central Europe. The disease has been observed to spread up to 20-30km per annum once established.

• A high risk pathway for the disease entering the UK is on imported ash saplings from areas of Europe. The Woodland Trust is therefore calling for an immediate mandatory ban across the UK on importing ash trees in a last-chance bid to help prevent the destructive disease dieback of ash becoming established in the UK.

• The Woodland Trust will no longer plant imported ash trees and has taken the decision not to plant ash on the majority of its estate or advocate its planting by others this year.