Following the Government’s COBR meeting, Woodland Trust Chief Executive Sue Holden said:

“We welcome the Government’s initial plans to deal with the immediate consequences of ash dieback and are reassured that our voice was heard at the Emergency Summit. However, we will continue to press the Government to recognise this as a wake up call to deal with tree disease as a whole in the UK and to firm up their actions on this, as well as the much-needed new resources they will allocate to it, as soon as possible.

We support Defra’s response advising that no mature ash trees should currently be felled. This underlines widespread concerns that rapid and ill-considered action in our mature and ancient woods could do more harm than good. We do not want to remove small populations of resistant ash that may hold the key to the survival of the species across the country.

The Woodland Trust is determined to ensure that a robust plan on the issue of tree disease as a whole is finalised as soon as possible so that the UK is much better prepared to face a wide range of tree health risks. The commitment from Government to produce a longer term plan is welcome, along with Paterson’s assurance that he will consider ‘radical proposals’.

Our own three-point plan fits well with the options being considered, but is firmly rooted in taking action quickly:

  1. We have a joint £2m project with the National Trust, Forest Research and the Food and Environment Research Agency bringing scientists and the public together to monitor and protect the UK’s trees and woods. The project is ready to go. We have already jointly committed £1million but await EU funding for it to go ahead. If the Government close the funding gap now with an investment of £1million, we could start this project immediately.
  2. We will begin long-term investment in UK nurseries to ensure every tree we plant is UK-sourced and grown, removing all risk of importing further disease. We will also work closely with community and voluntary tree nurseries to the same end.
  3. We will host a major conference to discuss knowledge, issues and impact of ash disease and wider tree health risks on conservation, with input from international specialists.

We are committed to tackling the growing threat of all tree pests and diseases in the UK and will continue to lead the fight and hold government to account on its promise to safeguard the future of our trees and woods.”

The three point plan can be found, in full here:

The Woodland Trust has also launched a new website for anyone concerned not only about ash dieback but all tree pests and diseases. It can be found here:

The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity championing native woods and trees. It has more than 300,000 members and supportersand its three key aims are: i) to enable the creation of more native woods and places rich in trees ii) to protect native woods, trees and their wildlife for the future iii) to inspire everyone to enjoy and value woods and trees. Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). Access to its sites is free.
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