Issued jointly with Natural Resources Wales
Chalara dieback of ash trees has been found in the wider environment in Wales for the first time, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) announced today.
Before the discovery of a number of mature trees infected by Chalara dieback of ash in Carmarthenshire, the disease had been confirmed only in newly planted sites in Wales where the trees could be traced to nurseries known to hold infected stock.
The disease, caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea, has already been found in the wider environment in the south-east of England and on the eastern side of Scotland since it was first recorded in Britain in early 2012.
It had been discovered in 19 recently planted sites in Wales, but this latest development marks the first discovery of Chalara in the wider environment on the western side of Great Britain.
The infected area, in Ferryside, south of Carmarthen, was discovered by Natural Resources Wales staff during a routine inspection earlier this month. It is adjacent to a site which was planted with young ash trees between December 2006 and March 2007, some of which also have the disease. Samples were sent for scientific analysis, which confirmed the trees had become infected with Chalara.
John Browne of Natural Resources Wales said,
“Following the discovery of Chalara dieback in the wider environment in England last autumn, we have known that it would be only a matter of time before it was discovered in the wider environment here as well.
“We have carried out a 1.5km survey of the area to ascertain the extent of the infection, and we are liaising with the landowners on the steps they can consider to reduce the rate of spread of the disease, in line with the Welsh Government’s Wales Chalara Management Plan.”
NRW is working closely with the Welsh Government on a UK-wide response to tackle the disease in conjunction with the Forestry Commission, Defra, the Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA) and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
A ban on movements of ash plants and seeds into and within Great Britain has been in place since October 2012 to help slow the spread and minimise the impact of Chalara.
The disease poses no risk to human or animal health, and public access to woodlands is not restricted, but people are asked to behave responsibly and take simple precautions such as removing mud and leaves from footwear and tyres.
The disease spreads naturally by airborne spores, and can be moved long distances by the transport of infected material.
Mr Browne added,
“Anyone who thinks they’ve seen any trees with symptoms of dieback may let us know using the free Tree Alert app or on-line form available at www.forestry.gov.uk/treealert, or call the Chalara helpline on 08459 335577.
“We cannot respond individually to each caller, but the information will be welcomed by NRW, who will decide on the best course of action.”
Further information, including guides to recognising the symptoms of Chalara dieback, and a map showing the locations of confirmed cases, is available on the Forestry Commission’s website at www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara.
Notes to Editors:
- Natural Resources Wales was formed on 1 April 2013, and brings together the work of the former Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency Wales and Forestry Commission Wales, as well as some functions of the Welsh Government. Its purpose is to ensure that the natural resources of Wales are sustainably maintained, enhanced and used. NRW is a Welsh Governmen-sponsored body.
- A total of 14.3 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38 per cent (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Government.
- There are 17,600 hectares of ash in Wales, which represents 6.8 per cent of the broadleaved woodlands. The species is important for its timber, firewood, wildlife, biodiversity and landscape benefits.
- After oak and birch, common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is the third most common native broadleaf tree in Great Britain.