Ash dieback found in five NI sites

Published Friday, 16 November 2012
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The tree disease ash dieback has been found in five sites in counties Antrim and Down, which resulted in the destruction of around 5,000 saplings.

Ash dieback found in five NI sites
Ash trees in England affected by the disease. (© Getty)

It was identified in young ash trees all linked to continental imports, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirmed on Friday.

The plants showed symptoms of the disease and after samples were sent for laboratory analysis, results proved positive.

Statutory notices have been served on the owners of the plantations requiring destruction of the saplings and other plant debris.

As part of its ongoing surveillance programme, the department is investigating a number or other sites planted with imported ash saplings.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill said: "This is the first time the disease has been confirmed in the north.

"My officials have been working with the plantation owners and statutory notices for the destruction of ash saplings and associated plant debris has been served.

"The saplings and debris will be destroyed by burning and this work has already commenced.

"We have alerted our colleagues in the south and are continuing to work closely with them."

Many of our wooded landscapes may well be dramatically changed by this disease, and we are particularly concerned about the loss of the some of the hundreds of veteran ash trees that we have in our woods and parkland.

Ian Wright, National Trust

The Minister added: "Legislation was introduced north and south last month banning the import and movement of ash plants for planting from infected areas.

"However, we must remain vigilant as this disease still poses a very serious threat. I would appeal for a responsible approach over the coming season.

"I encourage all stakeholders to be alert for signs of this disease and report findings."

One of the outbreak sites has been confirmed on the north Antrim coast.

It was found at a National Trust property at Runkerry, between Bushmills and the Giant's Causeway.

Ian McCurley, regional forestry adviser, said the news that an estimated 3.5 hectares were affected at the site was devastating.

"Around 2000 young trees, planted in March this year, have been confirmed as carrying the disease. Today these were removed and burned," he said.

"The ash trees will be replaced with other species, but our main objective is to do everything possible to try to protect as many of the ash trees as we can in the woods, parks, gardens and farmland that we care for."

© UTV News
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