Ash tree dieback is caused by the Chalara fraxinea fungus. It has already affected a high proportion of ash trees in Northern Europe.
It was discovered for the first time in Great Britain in a nursery in Buckinghamshire in February 2012. In October this year, it was also found in the wider environment in woodland in Norfolk.
The scientific advice is that it will not be possible to eradicate Chalara. However, this plan sets out initial targeted, science-based and proportionate action to control the disease and provides a framework for future action as our understanding of Chalara, and the costs and benefits of action develops. It follows our preliminary actions which were published on 9 November 2012.
Its four key objectives:
- Reducing the rate of spread of the disease
- Developing resistance to the disease in the native ash tree population
- Encouraging landowner, citizen and industry engagement in surveillance, monitoring and action in tackling the problem
- Building economic and environmental resilience in woodlands and in associated industries
The actions announced in the Control Plan include research into resistance to Chalara, funding to accelerate the development of ObservaTREE, a tree health early warning system using volunteer groups, and advice and guidance to industry on improving their resilience to Chalara.
Alongside the Control Plan, we are publishing the Interim Report of the independent Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce convened by Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Ian Boyd. The Task Force was set up to assess the current disease threats to the UK and has published its initial recommendations about how those threats could be addressed.