Chalara takes hold but the battle goes on

Forestry Commission Scotland will no longer be issuing Statutory Plant Health Notices requiring the removal of Chalara-infected, recently planted ash trees in the ‘sheltered area’ of north-west Scotland and its associated ‘buffer’. 

The move follows the confirmation of Chalara ash dieback in the wider environment at a number of sites in the buffer area last summer and then in the sheltered area earlier this year. 

This change in approach has the support of the Scottish Tree Health Advisory Group comprised of representatives across the Scottish Government, the Forestry Commission, environmental bodies and the land use and commercial sectors.

The sheltered area and ‘buffer’ were established in 2013 in a bid to slow the arrival and spread of the pathogen in the wider environment to help protect its high nature conservation value ash woodlands in that area. 

Dr Anna Brown, Forestry Commission Scotland’s Head of Tree Health, said;

“Evidence available at the time the sheltered area was established suggested ash at this location was least likely to be at risk from airborne spores.”    “Statutory action requiring the removal and destruction of recently planted, infected ash, was therefore one of the principal tools that we could use to try and slow the spread of Chalara.”

“Now that the disease has been detected in the wider environment these measures are no longer appropriate.”

“However, the fight against Chalara continues with an increasing focus on adaptive actions such as collecting ash seed for future use, surveying ash trees for signs of potential disease tolerance, and monitoring of environmental changes in a sample of high nature conservation value ash woodlands.”

Already underway, the adaptive actions complement existing guidance on preserving the environmental benefits of Chalara-infected woodlands, which advises retaining ash as a component of such woodlands for as long as possible – primarily by not felling infected trees unless there are public safety concerns. 

In addition, further guidance on managing high nature conservation value ash woodland is in development.  The Chalara Action Plan for Scotland has been fully revised to reflect the change in circumstances and will shortly be published along with the recently revised ‘Ramorum on larch’ and ‘Dothistroma’ Action Plans.

Notes to editors

  1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment and Forestry Directorate.
  2. Forest Enterprise Scotland is an agency of Forestry Commission Scotland and manages the National Forest Estate on behalf of Scottish Ministers.
  3. Tha Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba na phàirt de Bhuidheann-Stiùiridh na h-Àrainneachd is Coilltearachd aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba. Tha e an urra ri riaghladh agus cumail maoineachadh is comhairle ri coilltearachd ann an Alba. Tha Iomairt Choilltean na h-Alba na fo-bhuidheann aig Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba a tha a’ ruith Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta.
  4. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6507 / 07785 527590 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.