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O’Neill urges farmers, forest owners and public to be alert to threat of Ash Dieback

Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle O’Neill is emphasising the need to be alert to the threat posed by the tree disease Ash Dieback and report any suspect symptoms to the Department.
Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Minister said: “Ash Dieback is a serious tree disease and the ash tree is of particular landscape, environmental, and cultural value in Ireland. We all have a part to play in tackling this disease. Unless it can be prevented from becoming established, the consequences for our landscape will be significant.”

She continued: “I want all farmers, forest owners and the wider public to be vigilant for the signs of this disease and quickly report any suspect symptoms they see to the Department. This will greatly assist and complement our proactive surveillance plans.”

The Minister also pointed to the comprehensive information on Ash Dieback, the actions which can be taken in helping to identify suspect symptoms, along with reporting arrangements which are available on the Department’s website.

Reports can also be made to the Department’s helpline on 0300 200 7847 or email details to: afib.planthealth@dardni.gov.uk

The Department has been taking views from stakeholders on the draft All Ireland Control Strategy for Ash Dieback and work is now underway to finalise this strategy. Extensive surveillance work for 2013 has already started.

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. 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, 68 premises have been confirmed positive for the fungus Chalara fraxinea. 65 of these are recently planted sites across all counties, with an additional three findings in nursery retail and trade situations.
  3. You can obtain a range of information on this tree disease, along with a symptom guide, on our website.
  4. 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.