HUNDREDS of trees could be chopped down to halt the spread of a disease wreaking havoc on woodlands.

The zone would run diagonally across Scotland from the Moray Firth to the Clyde to create a sheltered area to the west.

It is hoped that, while some more areas will be affected in the next five years, the sheltered area could remain disease-free for up to 20 years, allowing new approaches to be developed.

Statutory action is being considered which would require the removal or killing of all recently planted ash trees on any infected sites in both the buffer and sheltered areas.

Actions could include uprooting or cutting the trees before burning and deep burial, spraying the stumps or chemically injecting standing trees.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/trees-face-the-axe-in-buffer-zone-bid-to-control-disease.20429396

Nurseries infected with the deadly fungus set to wipe out Britain’s 80m ash trees have been removed from the official map of the outbreak the Guardian can reveal, after nursery owners complained that being identified might hurt their business.

Officials said permitting anonymity encourages nursery owners to come forward and report infections, but critics say concealing the identity of infected nurseries means the public and scientists trying to fight the epidemic do not have the full facts.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/23/ash-dieback-infected-nurseries-map

Mr Gardiner said if importing low-quality woodchip from Poland, Belgium or Denmark where there is infection up to 80%, then “it is unlikely that you are going to get non-contaminated, low-grade woodchip”.

The risk was much higher than moving the fuel around the UK, where the infection rate was much lower by comparison.

Dr Steve Woodward, plant pathologist at Aberdeen University said, “There is the potential for young shoots that have been put into the admixture of chips and chipped up themselves to carry the infection so if the material was coming in the correct time of year which would be June to September and if that material was contaminated and should it be left lying around anywhere where it was of suitable humidity where it could produce the fruiting bodies then that’s when it presents the risk.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/countryside/9757345/Woodchip-imports-should-be-banned-to-stop-ash-dieback.html

Although there is no evidence of Chalara at the nursery, it has been banned from moving or selling the saplings as part of government action to prevent the spread of the disease.

A committee of MPs has now launched an inquiry to look at ash dieback and the way it has been handled.

Leader the inquiry, Anne McIntosh MP, told BBC Inside Out that Britain’s tree industry, which was importing saplings from Europe, needs to look at itself.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-20680983

Action against the deadly fungus threatening the UK’s ash trees was delayed by a lack of qualified plant pathologists, MPs were told on Tuesday. Government scientists being questioned by parliament’s environment committee also said border controls against the rising number of invasive plant pests were not working, while committee chair Anne McIntosh said it was “staggering” that the amount of imported firewood – a potential infection risk – was unknown.

The Forestry Commission recommended in July 2011 that ash trees should only be imported from areas free of the Chalara fraxinea fungus, but an import ban was only imposed in October 2012. At least 136 of the 291 infected sites now identified in the UK resulted from imported trees.

In November, Prof James Brown, president of the British Society of Plant Pathology, told the Guardian the job losses in plant science were “severe”. He said: “Britain is not producing graduates with the expertise needed to identify and control plant diseases in our farms and woodlands.”

a key measure put forward in the action plan – developing strains of ash trees that are naturally resistant to Chalara – would take 10 years or more to bear fruit.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/11/ash-dieback-plant-scientists-environment-committee

The Control Plan outlines some additional actions including:

  • researching spore production at infected sites;
  • working closely with other European countries that have been affected by Chalara to share data and experience on  resistance to the disease;
  • funding a study to accelerate the development of the ObservaTREE, a tree health early warning system using volunteer groups; and
  • working with the horticulture and nursery sectors on long-term resilience to the impact of Chalara and other plant health threats.

http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2012/12/06/government-strategy-ash-dieback/