Belfast Telegraph

O’Neill and Hayes agree All-Ireland Strategy to control Chalara dieback of ash trees

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Forestry Ministers Michelle O’Neill and Minister of State Tom Hayes have agreed an All-Ireland Chalara Control Strategy. 

The strategy sets out the policy and actions which will be taken as part of the continued attempt to prevent Chalara ash dieback disease becoming established in Ireland.

Minister O’Neill said: “The fact that Ireland is an island, isolated from potential sources of infection, suggests that there is a reasonable hope of preventing or slowing down the disease from becoming established here. The effectiveness of our approach is likely to depend on detecting and eradicating any incidence of the disease within Ireland before it spreads to ash trees in the wider environment.”

Commenting on the Strategy, Minister Hayes said: “Ash dieback is a serious tree disease and ash trees are of particular landscape, environmental and cultural value in Ireland. So far, this disease has only been found in recently planted ash trees linked to imports and our aim is to reduce the risk of the disease becoming established here. The strategy is comprehensive and covers many elements including our joint approaches on eradication, research into breeding for resistance, engaging with the public and other stakeholders and advice for woodland owners.”

The Ministers discussed this year’s surveillance plans, disease findings and the support available to woodland owners to destroy affected ash plants and replant their woodland with alternative tree species. 

The Ministers welcomed the support and comments provided by farmers, woodland owners, forestry companies, environmental groups and other stakeholders during consultation on the Strategy and at stakeholder meetings. Minister O’Neill said: “We continue to urge people to be vigilant for the disease and to quickly report symptoms they see to their respective Departments. This will greatly assist in complementing the aims of the Strategy.”

Minister Hayes added “A clearer picture of the extent of Chalara ash dieback will become evident over the summer months as both Departments intensify surveillance. The Strategy will be kept under constant review based on this ongoing surveillance and the development of scientific knowledge of this complex disease.” 

Notes to editors:

1. Ash dieback (Chalara fraxinea) is a very damaging disease of ash (Fraxinus spp.) including our native ash (Fraxinus excelsior).

2. The first finding in Ireland of ash dieback was confirmed on the 12 October 2012 in County Leitrim. The up to date situation of confirmed location findings is now as follows; Forestry Plantations 36; Horticultural Nurseries 15; Garden Centres 4; Private Garden 2; Farm landscaping/AEOS 14; Roadside landscaping 14.

3. In the north of Ireland the first finding of ash dieback were confirmed on 16 November 2012. The up to date situation of confirmed location findings is as follows: Forestry Plantations 62; Horticultural Nurseries/Garden centres 3; Urban /Amenity 6; Private Garden 10; Hedgerow 2; Roadside landscaping 4.

6. The strategy is available to download on the DAFM Chalara Ash Dieback web page http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/ashdiebackchalara/. It is also available on the DARD website http://www.dardni.gov.uk/ash-dieback-disease
 

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