THE deadly fungal disease threatening the country’s ash trees is now “widespread” throughout the UK with the number of confirmed Scottish cases rising to 23, environment minister Paul Wheelhouse said today.
• Scotland now has 23 cases of ash dieback
• Scots pine also at risk from disease
There are now 241 cases of ash dieback disease which is threatening to devastate Britain’s 80 million ash population and Mr Wheelhouse told MSPs today this is “likely to spread further.”
Scotland’s cases includes one at a nursery site as well as 18 recent planting sites and four locations in the wider environment, the minister said.
“Although our native ash is not an important component of woods and forests in Scotland, it is an important feature of our landscape, has considerable biodiversity value and also has one of the most productive uses in terms of timber and firewood,” Mr Wheelhouse told Holyrood’s environment committee.
“We will take all reasonable step to limit the impact of this disease, although ash dieback is one of a number of tree health problems we’re facing at the moment.”
The Scots pine is among the other species at risk from dothistroma needle blight.
The Forestry Commission is developing advice on ash dieback, including the sensitive management of mature trees, techniques that could slow the spread of the disease and seeking out isolated locations which could be used as a “refuge” for trees where planting could be undertaken.
A report has also been commissioned to look into the ecological impact in Scotland which will be published next month, the minister said.