Stronger action needed to combat ash dieback warn RSPB, as three new sites are affected

MINISTERS were today urged not to ‘give up the fight’ against ash dieback as it emerged that three new sites affected by the deadly tree disease have been found in Scotland.

Latest reports from the Forestry Commission Scotland revealed that the number of confirmed cases of Chalara ash dieback has now risen to 26.

News of the increase coincides with the publication of an interim control plan agreed by the UK and Scottish governments to find ways of tackling the disease over the winter, while it is dormant, before it becomes infectious again in the Spring.

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As the SNP announced the creation of a new Tree Health Advisory Group, RSPB Scotland warned that although initial plans following an emergency summit last month were encouraging, “stronger” action was now needed to combat the “plethora” of new pests and diseases being imported into Scotland.

Stuart Housden, RSPB Scotland director, said: “Now is not the time to give up the fight on ash dieback, and there is still a role for sensitively removing newly-planted infected trees where this helps halt the spread and protect mature native ash woods.”

Key objectives of the latest plans include developing better resistance to the disease and improving detection by the industry and the public to help reduce its spread.