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Ash tree import ban to halt disease

Category: England

Published: 27th Oct 2012 06:01:53

A ban on the import of ash trees will come into force on Monday in an attempt to halt the spread of a deadly disease, the environment secretary has said.

The Charlara fraxinea fungus, which causes Chalara dieback, has already killed 90% of ash trees in Denmark and has been found in East Anglia.

Owen Paterson has denied that ministers were slow to react to the outbreak.

He said 50,000 ash trees had already been destroyed to try to prevent the spread of the disease.

Until earlier this week, the disease had only been recorded in a few nursery specimens.

Ash trees suffering with C. fraxinea have been found across mainland Europe, with Denmark reporting the disease has wiped out about 90% of its ash trees.

I have already prepared the legislation and we're ready to go”

Experts say that if the disease becomes established, then it could have a similar impact on the landscape as Dutch elm disease had in the 1970s.

This outbreak resulted in the death of most mature English elm by the 1980s. Elms have recovered to some extent but in some cases only through careful husbandry.

The East Anglia outbreak has been confirmed by plant scientists from the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) at the Woodland Trust's Pound Farm woodland in Suffolk, and Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Lower Wood reserve, in Ashwellthorpe.

Mr Paterson said: "We will bring in a ban on Monday. I have already prepared the legislation and we're ready to go. The evidence is clearly there."

The disease has the potential to devastate the UK's ash tree population.

Visible symptoms include leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees and it can lead to tree death.

In Europe, affected trees are not just in woodlands but are also being found in urban trees in parks and gardens and also nursery trees.

Chalara dieback of ash has been listed as a quarantine pathogen under national emergency measures and the Forestry Commission has produced guidance, including help on how people can identify possible signs of infection.

Experts are urging people to report suspected cases of dieback in order to prevent the spread of the disease to the wider environment becoming established.

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BBC News, 2012. Ash tree import ban to halt disease [Online] (Updated 27th Oct 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1460406/Ash-tree-import-ban-to-halt-disease [Accessed 2nd Sep 2014]

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