Government too slow to act on ash tree disease’

3 November 2012

 

 

THE Green Party has criticised the government for acting too slowly to stop the spread of a devastating disease that could pose a risk to the survival of the UK’s 80 million Ash trees.

Defra is known to have had knowledge of the problem as far back as 2009.   

While the Chalara Fraxinea disease was first identified in East Anglia in February, the Government has only now started to act – with a meeting of the Cobra committee taking place today to discuss a response to the crisis.

The Woodland Trust has said that the recently announced import ban on ash trees should have been brought in earlier as the disease has been in Europe for years. However, Greens believe that hasty calls by some politicians for an aerial spraying of a fungicide to combat the disease are misguided, since there is a chance it could cause more damage to woodland ecosystems.

Cllr. James Abbott, Green Party Science and Technology Spokesperson, who has run a tree nursery in Essex since 1987, said: "We sincerely hope that this disease will not take hold as it could devastate our landscape and natural habitats. Ash is one of the dominant tree species in the UK, and if the disease does spread, it will expose serious flaws in government policy.

“Cutting funding to forestry authorities, for example, is a false economy that will lead to far greater economic losses than it has saved.

“The government’s slow response to the ash dieback problem has once again shown a lack of understanding of the importance of woods and forests to the UK.

“While it’s taken the government eight months to ban Ash imports since the discovery of the disease in the UK, the Irish government, in contrast, banned them immediately.”

Cllr. Abbott continued: “The UK has superb soils and climate for tree growing, yet imports a significant proportion of stock from abroad, both trees and shrubs - including native trees. 

“The UK should be able to grow UK trees using native seeds, which would generate local jobs, particularly in rural areas.

“Yet the Government has allowed the import market to continue without strict enough regulation, despite the fact that importing native trees is both economically and environmentally unsustainable."

ENDS

For more information contact Zoe Hall on 0207 5490 315 or zoe.hall@greenparty.org.uk

 

Notes

1) Cuts to funding have inhibited responses to combat the disease: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/cuts-damage-ability-to-fight-ash-disease-8229465.html

2) Britain’s 80 million Ash trees: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/oct/30/ash-tree-crisis-dieback-disease

3) For more information about the Green Party’s forestry policies, visit: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/fr

4) For more information about the Green Party, visit: http://www.greenparty.org.uk/

 

 






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