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Monday, November 19, 2012

Tough action demanded over tree disease

Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates has called for the Welsh and UK Governments to work together to manage the spread of Ash Die Back in North Wales.
Chlara Fraxinea – otherwise known as Ash die back - is an imported fungal disease and experts suggest it has the potential to be as dangerous as Dutch Elm Disease which wiped out 25m trees in the 1970s and 80s.
100,000 Ash Trees in England have been destroyed by the disease with Wales' first case being confirmed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in Carmarthenshire.
The AM said its spread to North Wales was ‘almost inevitable’ and called for ‘clear and co-ordinated’ guidance to help those with infected trees on their land.
Mr Skates said: “Unfortunately the spread of this disease to North Wales is almost inevitable. What we need now is strong leadership from the Welsh and UK Governments and clear guidance being given to landowners who discover this disease on their land in North Wales.
“Infected trees need to be reported quickly and we need clarity as to whether they should then be cut down or left in situ. We need to be guided by expert scientific opinion on this matter, my only concern is to make sure that this happens quickly.
“We also need have clear guidance on how to handle leaf litter, because of the danger of diseased spores being moved to other sites. From this point onwards it may well be a case of moving resources to manage the outbreak as best we can when it finally comes.
“I raised this issue in the Senedd at the start of October, calling for a ban on imports of nursery stock. Sadly we have gone way past that and it now threatens the very survival of some of the most beautiful and historic Ash Trees in North Wales.
“Landowners and members of the public need to be better informed and I will be pressing the Minister for clear guidance from the Welsh and UK Governments.”
Ash dieback was first recorded in Eastern Europe in 1992 and spread over two decades to infect most of the continent.
The first confirmed case in the UK was recorded at a nursery in Buckinghamshire back in March.

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