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Action for Ash

Monday 29th October

Action for Ash

Following Defra Secretary of State Owen Paterson's meeting with the Forestry Commission (this weekend) to consider what action to take to control Ash dieback disease Chalara fraxinea, The Wildlife Trusts are urging members and supporters to report potential sightings of infected trees, in the hope that the ecological impacts of this devastating disease can be minimised.

In a letter sent today to the Secretary of State, René Olivieri, Chair of The Wildlife Trusts, said that it is clearly very disappointing that failure to ban the import and movement of ash trees has resulted in the disease spreading into the natural environment – and one of Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves - and encourages the Secretary of State to: 

· Introduce a mandatory ban on imports of ash trees to prevent more disease entering the country and on the movement of ash trees around the country;

· Assess how far the disease has spread and halt it from spreading further around Britain;

· Set up an Emergency Summit, to co-ordinate action to halt the spread of the disease, to bring together appropriate scientists, commercial interests and representatives of landowning bodies including conservation organisations.

 René Olivieri, Chair of The Wildlife Trusts, said:

"We are concerned about the spread of this disease as the 47 Wildlife Trusts around the UK manage around 93,000 ha of land which includes woodland.  It now seems likely that the disease is present at Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve, Lower Wood Ashwellthorpe, an ancient woodland and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. 

 "Ash trees, as hedgerow and field trees, are an important feature in our landscape and also a key component of ecologically unique woodlands that support rare species.  For example, upland ashwoods, such as those in the Peak District, support rare woodland flowers, a rich invertebrate fauna and important lichens. Their loss would have a dramatic negative impact on our natural environment."

The timing of the announcement on Ash die back disease comes just a week after Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust launched a major appeal to help extend one of the finest Ash woodlands in the region – Treswell Wood.

Speaking about the Appeal, Charles Langtree, Head of Estate Management and Develop for the Trust said: "We are currently trying to raise £15,000 as part of a £65,000 project to protect the future of Treswell Wood, near Retford, by purchasing land adjacent to the woodland so that can allow an area that was once part of this important woodland to regenerate naturally. This threat to Ash woodland underlines the importance of our efforts to protect this and other woodlands across Nottinghamshire and we are now even more determined to do everything we can to safeguard the future of one of the finest examples of a traditionally managed Ash Woodland in the Midlands." 

For details about the appeal click here Lost Woodland

For further details about Ash Die Back visit http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara

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