Ash dieback: number of affected counties doubles
As tree growers and plant health experts from 80 organisations met at a summit convened by the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said ash dieback had now been confirmed in the wild in six new counties: Berkshire, Bedfordshire, Lincolnshire, Northumberland, Sussex and Yorkshire. A total of 115 sites in 11 counties, including some in Wales and Scotland, are now confirmed.
Government scientists said the main cluster of infections in south-east England and East Anglia suggested the disease, Chalara fraxinea, had probably spread on the wind from France and Belgium.
A detailed government action plan to respond to the disease will be published following a Cobra national emergency meeting. But the government has been warned by nurseries and woodland groups not to over-react.
"The clear message we got was don't rush into cutting down mature trees but keep up the survey work and identify where the disease has spread and where it is resistant", said Defra chief scientist Prof Ian Boyd after the summit.
The government was at pains to underline the seriousness of the disease. "We will inevitably see a long term decline of the native ash. We must change the structure of our forests and introduce new species", said Defra chief plant health officer Martin Ward.
Article continues at ENN affiliate, Ecologist
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