In reaction to the Ash Dieback tragedy, Confor suggests an action plan for dealing with pests and diseases

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Ash dieback (Credit Forestry Commission)

Confor has drawn up an action plan on pests and diseases following the identification of Chalara fraxinea (ash dieback) in the UK. Ash dieback has been confirmed in 155 sites (as at 13 November 2012), mostly in eastern England, but clustered in East Anglia and the southeast.

The 11-point action plan is divided into three sections:

  • Chalara outbreak;
  • Prevention and control of pests/disease;
  • Growing and managing woodland to reduce risk.

Among the actions that Confor is calling for from the various governments in the UK are:

  • A fast-track decision-making system that allows for immediate controls on imports to be put in place when new outbreaks are detected.
  • To work with the forest industry and tree nurseries to develop a plan for growing potentially all trees in the UK.
  • To establish, urgently, the spread of ash dieback (Chalara fraxinea).
  • To ensure sufficient resources are put in place through 2013 budgets to deal with the current outbreaks and to promote more management of the UK’s forests and woodlands.

Confor also wants all nurseries growing trees to adopt the Confor Nursery Producers Group traceability scheme, so that woodland owners and managers have all the necessary information on which to make sensible decisions.

Stuart Goodall, chief executive of Confor, who attended a crisis summit to discuss ash dieback with Westminster ministers last week, as well as one in Scotland this week, said: “We need to learn the lessons of this, and other recent outbreaks, and take the urgent action necessary to protect our valuable forestry resource. How can we be better placed to tackle future problems?”

Confor has considered the idea of an immediate total ban on plant imports, but rejected this in favour of more targeted action. Diseases, including ash dieback, are windborne and others can be transmitted by birds and animals. “We need urgent action, but it has to be the right action”, Stuart said.

See Confor’s action plan is at www.confor.org.uk/NewsAndEvents/Listings.aspx?pid=29&id=1351

More info...
Confor promotes forestry and wood, and represents around 2000 forest and wood-using businesses across the UK. Its Nursery Producers Group comprises seven of the largest tree nurseries in the UK, primarily concerned with supplying the forest industry.

Confor’s Nursery Producers’ Group represents nine of the larger forest producing nurseries in the UK and they collectively produce 47 million trees per year and import 10 million. Membership rules insist that seed provenance information is made available to customers, as well as details of which country the plants were grown in.
www.confor.org.uk

For more information on Chalara, see www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara

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