Published Wednesday, 07 November 2012
Ash trees are imported for firewood and to make hurling sticks. (© Getty)
The further emergency legislation means that ash wood and bark can only be brought into Northern Ireland under certain conditions.
The measure, in tandem with similar legislation in the Dáil in Dublin, has been taken to help prevent the introduction of Chalara ash dieback, a disease of ash trees which is caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea.
The disease, which caused the death of many European trees, including 90% of Denmark's ash trees, has been found in parts of Great Britain.
"After consulting stakeholders we found that there are regular imports of ash logs for manufacturing purposes, mainly hurley sticks, and for fire wood," Minister O'Neill explained.
"As a potential pathway for the disease, it is an unacceptable risk. This new legislation means that from today, ash can only be imported under certain technical conditions as set out in the order."
The Minister said the measure was appropriate to reduce the risk of introducing the disease in the region but will still allow manufacturers to continue making hurling sticks.
Under the new legislation, logs of ash with bark attached can only be imported if they are accompanied by an official statement that the wood originates in an area known to be free from Chalara fraxinea.
However, the risk reduces substantially if the wood receives some simple treatment for which the Order provides.