Ash dieback: new management plan launched

Posted by Catherine Flitcroft on 26/03/2013

The government has produced a chalara or ash dieback management plan which sets out a number of actions to help reduce the spread of the disease.

Ash trees suffering with the infection have been found widely across Europe and at sites across Great Britain, including at urban landscaping schemes, newly planted woodland nurseries and in the wider environment, totalling 427 confirmed cases to date.

The Management Plan sets out action around four key objectives:

  • Reducing the rate of spread of the disease
  • Developing resistance to the disease in the native ash tree population
  • Encouraging  landowner, citizen and industry engagement in surveillance, monitoring and action in tackling the problem
  • Building economic and environmental resilience in woodlands and in associated industries

The actions announced in the Plan include research into the resistance to Chalara, outlines funding to assist landowners with replanting of diseased young ash trees, and details how Government are working with engaging citizens, landowners and industry on surveillance.

The management of our trees and woodlands, whether for timber production, for their biodiversity and landscape benefits or for access and recreation, is a long term endeavour. The full impact of Chalara will not be seen for at least a decade as infected mature trees will continue to survive for several years.

The Government has discussed with stakeholders and other interested parties what appropriate action might therefore be taken to slow the spread of Chalara and mitigate its impact. Importantly, the Plan recognises that;

'There is low probability of dispersal on clothing and footwear or via animals and birds. Transmission by routes other than wind and planting material are likely to pose a comparatively low risk, but the risk cannot be ruled out.'

Therefore, the Forestry Commission (FC) is reviewing its guidance in light of this Management Plan. In particular, they will be filming the spring signs of Chalara when trees come into leaf. This will be available online to help with the identification of the disease.

In the mean time, the advice to walkers and climbers remains the same. The Forestry Commission are not closing forests or advising owners of infected sites to do so but do ask that if you are visiting an infected or suspected wood, take some simple precautions:

  • do not remove any plant material (firewood, sticks, leaves or cuttings) from the woodland;
  • where possible, before leaving the woodland, clean soil, mud, leaves and other plant material from footwear, clothing, dogs, horses, the wheels and tyres of bicycles, baby buggies, carriages and other vehicles, and remove any leaves which are sticking to your car;
  • before visiting other countryside sites, parks, garden centres and nurseries, thoroughly wash footwear, wheels and tyres in soapy water;
  • follow the instructions on any signs.

The FC is also asking the public to help by looking at their Chalara symptoms videos or symptom images and reporting any sightings. You can also download their free Tree Alert app to your smartphone or tablet.

The Welsh Government continues to support the four objectives set out in this Defra Management Plan. It has developed its own plan which reflects the distribution of ash and specific requirements for Wales.



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