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Summit identifies ideas for action on ash tree disease

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Ash dieback disease (Chalara fraxinea) - necrosis of rachis (arrowed) and associated desiccation of leaflets

Published jointly with Defra

Businesses, charities and other organisations that care for our woodlands and forests today joined Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary in the UK Government, at a tree health summit to generate ideas for tackling pests and diseases attacking Great Britain's trees, including Chalara dieback of ash trees.

About 100 people, including scientists, campaigners and representatives from charitable groups and government agencies, attended the summit, where the findings of the mass survey of forests and woodlands were reported. A report on the very latest scientific information was also presented.

The top ideas to tackle Chalara dieback identified at the summit included:

  • better awareness raising and information gathering, such as on leaf litter management;
  • keep surveying – develop partnerships to continue surveillance for disease and resistance and making use of volunteers; and
  • focus action on newly planted trees – don’t cut down mature trees.

A wide range of other ideas for action were identified, which will be examined in further detail.

These and other ideas will now be considered for possible inclusion in a Chalara action plan to be published on Friday 9 November.

Speaking after the summit, Mr Paterson said:

“We called this summit to bring together the best ideas from experts and all who care for our forests so that we can urgently prepare an action plan to tackle Chalara and better protect our trees for the future.

“Many of the ideas discussed today are extremely interesting, and our scientists and plant health experts will examine them urgently and include the most effective ones in an action plan by the end of the week.”

The tree health summit follows on from a number of actions the Government has taken to discover the extent of Chalara dieback and contain its spread. Over the past few days hundreds of people from the Forestry Commission, other government agencies and stakeholder groups have urgently surveyed more than 2500 sections of land across Great Britain in the largest operation of its kind ever undertaken.

Mr Paterson also chaired a COBR meeting on Friday 2 November to co-ordinate cross-government action in tackling the disease.

For further information on Chalara dieback of ash trees and for the scientific paper presented to the meeting visit