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Stakeholders invited to comment on All-Ireland Control Strategy for Ash Dieback

A new strategy to tackle the ash dieback tree disease in Ireland was published today for comment.
Friday, 12 April 2013

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), along with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) have jointly produced the Draft All-Ireland Chalara Control Strategy. It outlines a ‘Fortress Ireland’ approach for the identification, control and eradication of the pest which causes Chalara ash dieback, and sets out the actions that will be taken.

Announcing details of the publication, Forestry Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “This is a serious disease, which could have significant consequences for our landscape unless it can be prevented from becoming established in Ireland. The new control strategy shows our determination to minimise the impact of ash dieback on the island and it is important that we engage widely to tackle the problem.

“We are co-operating closely with authorities in the south of Ireland on a ‘fortress Ireland’ type approach and I would encourage a wide range of stakeholders to make comment on the new plans.”

The first findings in the north of ash dieback were confirmed on 16 November 2012. As a result of general surveillance and trace forward exercises to date, 40 premises have been confirmed positive for the fungus Chalara fraxinea. 37 of these are recently planted sites in counties Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, and Tyrone, with an additional three findings in nursery retail and trade situations.

The Department is continuing to conduct specific surveys of ash locally for any symptoms of the disease. The survey covers all of the north taking in public and private woodland, roadside and farm plantings, established trees and hedgerows. Any suspect trees found will be sampled and undergo laboratory testing for the ash dieback pathogen.

A copy of the draft Strategy is available on the DARD website.

The Department is seeking views from stakeholders, with comments to be sent by Tuesday 30 April 2013 to Rebecca.Hunter@dardni.gov.uk or to: Farm Policy Branch, Room 910, Dundonald House, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast BT4 3SB.

Notes to editors:

  1. Ash dieback (Chalara fraxinea) is a very damaging organism of certain species of ash (Fraxinius spp.) including our native ash (F. excelsior). It is one of the most common broadleaved species in GB and Ireland and is a very important component of Irish woodland and hedgerow ecosystems. The disease is widespread in mature woodland in the east of England has been found in young trees elsewhere in GB. The disease is not ‘regulated’ by European Union plant health law, however emergency legislation regulating movement of ash planting stock and ash wood has been introduced in both the north and south of Ireland to prevent entry of the pathogen on this material.
  2. 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.