The Forestry Commission is urging industry to be vigilant for signs of ash dieback on new tree and shrub species. This comes after a report of sightings through its Tree Alert reporting system.
The call comes after three new tree and shrub species in the same family as ash (Oleaceae) tested positive for ash dieback infection. This was at the Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire.
The findings are unlikely to have a significant impact on the environment. This is due to the newly infected species being ornamental and are not widespread or native to the UK.
The infection, identified by staff at the arboretum, narrow-leaved mock privet and white fringetree. The species found in near to infected ash trees.
Forest Research UK is conducting further tests on the nature of the infection. This includes monitoring other species in the tree family for susceptibility to the infection. Many of these species have already been tested, including Osmanthus and Lilac, yet found negative readings.
UK chief plant health officer, Professor Nicola Spence, said: “Since 2012, the Government has invested more than £6m into ash dieback research. These findings highlight the importance of the Forestry Commission’s reporting system, Tree Alert. This includes arboreta and other plant collections. All these play crucial roles in supporting the UK’s world-leading plant health sector.
“Landscapers, gardeners and tree practitioners should be vigilant for signs of ash dieback on these new host species. They should report suspicious findings through Tree Alert.”
In May the Environment Secretary launched the first Tree Health Resilience Strategy. This is the first major publication to come out of the 25-Year Environment Plan. The strategy sets out a new proactive approach to tree health, with landowners, charities, the public and government working together to take actions to build resilience against pests and diseases to protect the nation’s trees.
A senior cross-industry Plant Health Alliance has established to strengthen biosecurity across industry.
Arboreta also continue to play a critical role in supporting work on ash dieback. Forest Research has identified over 30 different ash species being grown in the main arboreta of Britai. Used in trials, it assesses tolerance of these species to ash dieback.
Defra and the Forestry Commission continue to work with landowners and local councils, as well as the plant health sector . It aims to share experiences, identify solutions and develop action plans to deal with the impacts of ash dieback.
To report a suspected case of ash dieback in any of these newly identified host species, visit: https://www.forestry.gov.uk/treealert