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Chalara Dieback of Ash

Ash trees in a nursery Ash trees in a nursery Zoom Most people will probably be aware from national news programmes or newspapers that a serious fungal disease, Chalara fraxinea, affecting a native tree species, ash (Fraxinus excelsior), has spread into the UK.

The government has now imposed a ban on all movements of ash where this disease could be present – i.e., anywhere in the UK. Though not as numerous as sycamore, there are plentiful specimens of ash that have been planted in Shetland, and these include both mature and young trees.

Being a UK native tree, ash is among those that are recommended for planting in the SRDP Woodland Creation scheme for the Northern and Western Isles. The movement ban means however that prospective tree-planters will not be able to acquire ash from plant nurseries, or to plant them in new woodland sites.

The Shetland Amenity Trust Woodlands service has offered ash for sale in its wholesale catalogues, and has, over recent years, planted it in several new woodlands in line with recommendations. The sale and planting of this species will now cease.

In the meantime, the Woodlands staff will monitor existing trees for any signs of the disease. Up to now, there are no indications that it has spread to Shetland.

Should anyone require more information on the disease, they can contact James Mackenzie at james@shetlandamenity.org or on 01595 694688.

A video clearly showing the symptoms of Chalara dieback of ash can be seen on the Forestry Commission's website: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara