Crisis meeting on ash dieback

WITH the news that chalara ash dieback has been discovered in Galloway, Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse this week set out the aims of a chalara control strategy for Scotland at a summit meeting with representatives from the country’s leading environment, land management and forestry agencies.

As a result of the crisis meeting it was agreed to:

• Provide advice on management of mature infected ash trees

• Identify mature ash that are resistant to the disease and could be used to propagate and develop new strains of ash to restock Scottish woodlands.

• Investigate woodland management and forestry techniques that could help slow down the spread of the disease and lessen its impact.

• Identify isolated locations around Scotland that are protected from windborne spread of spores and use them as a refuge for ash in Scotland.

• Develop a feasible, practical, achievable and affordable approach to dealing with infected young ash on newly planted sites

• Continue to survey in towns, cities and in the countryside surrounding infected sites.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “I would like to thank all of those who took part in today’s meeting on how we take forward efforts to tackle chalara and mitigate its impact on Scotland’s landscape and on the horticulture, arboriculture and forestry sectors.

“A number of actions have already been identified and there were many useful and positive contributions from the floor that will certainly be looked at more closely as we co-ordinate with the UK government effort and develop a control strategy for the end of November.

“The ongoing search for the disease and further work to slow its spread and reduce its impact will involve working in partnership with stakeholders. Those represented at today’s meeting included Confor, Woodland Trust Scotland, National Farmers Union Scotland, RSPB Scotland, Ramblers Association and Scottish Land and Estates.

“The disease has a widely dispersed range across the country and has been found in several new planting sites as well as in mature trees at two sites.”

For more information on chalara, how to spot symptoms and who to report concerns to, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara