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Temporary suspension of grant aid for new ash planting

Today the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle O’Neill MLA announced a temporary suspension of grant aid for new ash planting until the outlook for Chalara ash dieback disease is clearer.
Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The disease of ash trees is caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea, and was identified in young ash saplings at 16 sites in counties Down, Antrim, Tyrone and Derry. The plants, linked to continental imports, showed symptoms of the disease and samples were positive following laboratory analysis. Statutory notices have been served on the owners of the plantations requiring destruction of the affected ash saplings and associated plant debris.

The temporary suspension of grant aid for new ash planting will reduce the risk that new woodland with ash will fail as a result of Chalara ash dieback disease, and the investment, by the woodland owner and public, through grant assistance, not being able to be realised. There are a range of suitable replacement tree species for scheme participants. If you have a current approval, you should contact DARD to agree a change of species before planting.

Further information on the disease and reporting findings is available on the Department’s website.

Notes to editors:

  1. Chalara fraxinea is a serious disease which has caused the death of many ash trees in European countries. Legislation was introduced north and south on Friday 26 October banning the import and movement of ash plants for planting from infected areas. It is not a threat to humans or animals.
  2. Further legislation was made on 6 November and importers are now required to demonstrate that wood is free from infection by showing that it comes from an area known to be free from disease, or has been square sawn to removing the rounded surface, or has been dried to less than 20% moisture content.
  3. The Preliminary Woodland Register published by Forest Service indicates that the area of woodland is 105,700 hectares or approximately 8% of the land area. Ash is a native tree species and occurs as a component of broadleaf and mixed conifer/broadleaf woodland on mineral soils.
  4. Forest Service estimates that there are approximately 32,000 hectares of woodland (or 30% of our total woodland area) comprising broadleaf and mixed conifer broadleaf species on mineral soils which are likely to contain a component of ash. Approximately 20% of this is managed by Forest Service and the remaining 80% by a wide range of other bodies including farmers, estate owners, charitable trusts, local and central government.
  5. There are an estimated 75,000 miles of hedgerow (Countryside Survey 2007) which are also likely to contain a component of ash, both as standard trees and cut as part of routine hedge management.
  6. Further information on the disease and reporting finding is available on the Department's website.
  7. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: DARD Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.