Ash tree disease crisis summit at Holyrood

A SUMMIT is being held at Holyrood to discuss the best way of stemming the spread of Chalara ash dieback.

The fungal disease, which is threatening to devastate the UK’s ash tree population, has now been confirmed at 14 sites across Scotland. Two of these - at Eyemouth and at Kinghorn - involve mature trees in their natural environment.

Last week staff from the Forestry Commission completed a rapid action survey of 2,730 ash sites across Scotland. Laboratory results from samples taken as part of that survey were said to have provided vital information which will be discussed at the summit.

The meeting will bring together forestry groups, conservation bodies and landowners’ organisations to work out how to tackle the threat.

Organisations taking part in the summit include Confor, Woodland Trust Scotland, National Farmers Union Scotland, RSPB Scotland, WWF Scotland, Ramblers Association and Scottish Land and Estates.

Scottish Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse, who will host the event at the Scottish Parliament, has said with summer over there is a “good window of opportunity” to gather advice to help find a way forward.

He added: “The latest scientific advice is that realistically it will be impossible to eradicate this disease now that it has been discovered in the wider environment.”