CLA asks why ash import ban is not comprehensive

24 October 2013

The CLA has welcomed the Government's ban on the importation of ash trees announced today (29 October) but questioned why ash firewood and woodchip imports have not also been banned.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson introduced an immediate ban to try to control the spread of the fungus Chalara fraxinea, but the CLA said the ban was unlikely to stop the disease.

CLA President Harry Cotterell said: "We are pleased the Government has acted and imposed a ban on imported ash trees. The CLA will urge landowners to work with Defra and the Forestry Commission to report all incidences of this tree disease and is ready to help develop sensible and pragmatic control measures.

"However, the ban does not appear to cover imports of ash firewood and woodchip. Moving firewood from infected areas within the UK has been banned, so we would like to know why this has not been included under the import ban."

Mr Cotterell said ash dieback is just one of a number of deadly diseases that threatens the UK's native trees.

He said: "Acute Oak Decline and Oak Processionary Moth are just two of the pests and diseases currently affecting Britain's most iconic tree. The loss of ash trees would be a disaster but the loss of our oaks as well would be a catastrophe.

"The Government's Tree Health Action Plan is clearly not working. Import controls need to be strengthened and the Government must react faster as tree pests and diseases are identified. Investing in staff to help manage tree pests and diseases must be prioritised and money for research into how our trees can be made more resilient should be directed to Forest Research."