Ash trees under very serious threat

Ash trees are being threatened by a new disease that is spreading throughout Ireland and the UK. Chalara fraxinea, or ash dieback as it is commonly called, is the result of a fungus that has spread and destroyed a large amount of ash trees throughout Europe over the last few years. Denmark has been especially hard hit as 90% of ash trees have already been lost.

Although there have not been any current reports of the deadly ash disease reaching the Isle of Man it still has a large potential to kill thousands of additional trees if it is transported onto the Island. Therefore, it is considered a large threat to the tree species that makes up about a fourth of all of the hedgerow trees in the region.

Brenda Cannel MHK a Member for Forestry stated that the very aggressive nature of the ash disease has led them to stop importing trees for forestry use and they would like to urge all tree nurseries and others that are thinking about importing ash to instead join in the voluntary ban that will hopefully stop the disease from getting onto the Isle of Man.

Canell went on to explain that they are attempting to combat the problem by starting a new programme to grow up new ash stocks from seed so that they know that the stocks come free from disease. They hope that by letting the general public know about the disease they can help prevent it from getting into the country.

Mountain ash is not the same thing as Common Ash and therefore it is a separate concern. Symptoms of mountain ash include the dieback of twigs and shoots, scarring on the bark, and lesions on the bark. Details of more symptoms can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/ashdieback.