The Woodland Trust has welcomed the Government’s Ash Research Strategy announced 6 June 2019 to tackle the many threats facing the UK’s ash trees.
Biosecurity Minister Lord Gardiner launched the strategy, designed to merge evidence on threats to the UK’s population of ash trees. It will also identify future research needs to protect and restore both the species and landscape.
These threats include ash dieback, which is already present across most of the UK. Also the invasive non-native pest emerald ash borer, which is not currently established in the UK but has caused catastrophic losses of ash in North America.
Senior conservation adviser at the Woodland Trust Dr Nick Atkinson said:
“We’ve been calling on Government to boost its funding and research into threats posed to ash trees for several years so this is a welcome announcement. The focus on replanting using alternative species is particularly important to ensure ecological disturbance is minimised.
“However, we would urge the Government and land managers to ensure that replacement trees are UK sourced and grown to reduce the risk of importing other diseases from abroad. We would also advocate using native species, which are best able to adapt to climate change and co-evolved with the rest of our wildlife.
Last month a research team led by the University of Oxford published a report showing that ash dieback will cost £15billion to the UK economy.
The Trust wants Government to focus on three main points for tree health.
- Better biosecurity measures to prevent new pests and diseases becoming established
- The widespread use of UK sourced and grown trees, including government procurement
- A guarantee that the response includes support for replanting to benefit both people and wildlife