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Stakeholders updated on work to tackle Chalara Ash Dieback

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has updated stakeholders on the ongoing work to tackle the outbreak of Chalara Ash Dieback in the north.
Thursday, 25 April 2013

DARD Permanent Secretary Noel Lavery addressed representatives of a broad range of stakeholder interests at the event in Greenmount, providing an overview on the current situation and actions to date, as well as planned surveillance for the year ahead.

He said: “Ash Dieback is one of a number of serious tree diseases and on an island where the ash tree is of particular landscape, environmental, and cultural value, swift and integrated action is needed to deal with outbreaks. Unless it can be prevented from becoming established, the consequences for our landscape will be significant.”

Mr Lavery outlined the emphasis the Department places on plant health and reflected on impacts such as increased trade; globalisation; changing weather patterns and the increasing range of pest and diseases.

Commenting on the draft All Ireland Chalara Control Strategy he said: “It is important we work with our colleagues in the South and stakeholders here to prevent this disease becoming established in Ireland. I would encourage stakeholders to provide views on the plan and to work with us by reporting suspect symptoms they see.”

Clare Hall, a Rural Sustainability Researcher from Scottish Rural University College, updated stakeholders on the work she is undertaking as part of the DEFRA team tackling the outbreak of Chalara. This has involved helping to identify aspects about human behaviour and public attitudes that could guide any strategy to control or limit the spread of the disease.

Further information on the disease is available on the DARD website including a copy of the draft Strategy. Comments are being taken on the draft strategy until Tuesday 30 April 2013 and should be sent 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. 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, 50 premises have been confirmed positive for the fungus Chalara fraxinea. 47 of these are recently planted sites across all counties, with an additional three findings in nursery retail and trade situations.
  3. For media enquiries please contact DARD Press Office 028 9052 4619 or email: pressoffice.group@dardni.gov.uk Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.