Chalara ash infected tree found at Eyemouth

A TREE in Eyemouth has been identified as having symptoms of the chalara ash dieback disease.

This follows a Forestry Commission Scotland survey of 80,000 sq km (49,709 miles) which found 5% of the sites investigated with symptoms.

The fungal disease is threatening to wipe out the majority of the UK’s ash trees. It has already killed up to 90% of ash trees in some areas of Denmark.

Five sites at Eyemouth, Castle Douglas, Carrbridg, Blairgowrie and Montrose have been identified as infected, joining the previously identified sites near Kilmacolm in Renfrewshire and at a private nursery in Moray.

The infected sites will be revisited for further examination, the Commission said.

Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Although the rapid survey has been completed, and the results are to be cautiously welcomed, we still need to be vigilant and there is no room for complacency.

“To establish the extent of the disease, Forestry Commission Scotland has been carrying out a rapid survey involving inspecting 2730 ash sites across Scotland. Action is also under way to trace the destination of plants sent out from potentially infected nurseries.

“Only 5% of the sites visited in the rapid survey showed any potential symptoms meriting more detailed investigations and subsequent laboratory analysis and this work is on-going.

“In addition to the two sites already confirmed, a further five sites have so far been confirmed as being infected, bringing the total known confirmed cases to seven in Scotland.

“Further surveys, including more detailed surveys in areas around infected sites, will be needed before we can be confident about the full extent of the disease in Scotland. There is also the possibility of windborne spread of the disease from the continent and from infected sites elsewhere in these isles.”

The Forestry Commission said the disease only spreads in summer so there is now an opportunity to take appropriate action.There is no risk to human or animal health and there is no need to restrict public access to woodlands either, the Commission said.