Updates on policies and restrictions to mitigate the threat of diseases such as Chalara fraxinea and Phytophthora ramorum.
As the global trading of trees and plants has increased during recent years, so too has the risk and spread of pests and diseases to the UK. Trees have been particularly susceptible to these new threats brought into the country by imported products, leading to outbreaks of diseases such as Chalara fraxinea and Phytophthora ramorum.
In November 2012, the UK Government created a Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce bringing together some of the nation’s foremost scientists and industry figures to tackle the issue. In Wales, DEFRA is responsible for policy relating to all tree and plant health matters.
A fungus-like pathogen of plants that causes extensive damage and death to trees (particularly larch) and other plants, Phytophthora ramorum was first discovered in Wales in May 2010, and has since spread across the south of the country, with a number of cases also reported in the north.
It is estimated the disease has infected more than 12,300 acres of larch trees in Wales, around a fifth of the total amount nationwide. Natural Resources Wales has committed more than £2.3 million funding to dealing with the effects of Phytophthora ramorum, which cannot be eradicated – the work includes felling thousands of acres of infected trees, and undertaking research to slow its spread.
Ash dieback is a serious disease of ash trees caused by a fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. It has caused widespread damage across much of Europe, including Denmark where it is said to be responsible for the loss of 60-90% of all ash trees in the country.
The disease was discovered for the first time in Great Britain in Buckinghamshire in February 2012, and has since spread to hundreds of sites across the country, mainly in the south east of England. In May 2013, an outbreak was found in Ferryside, south of Carmarthen, the first discovery in Wales and the farthest west site in mainland Britain too.