96 ash dieback outbreaks

Just under 100 ash dieback outbreaks in locations across Ireland have been confirmed by the Department of Agriculture

Of these, 11 were confirmed since July of this year. Three of these most recent confirmations were in forestry plantations, one was in a horticultural nursery, one was located on a farm and the remaining six were in roadside plantings.

In terms of controlling the disease, the department has confirmed arrangements have been put in place to remove all ash trees from the 39 forest sites where the disease has been found and from the associated sites where trees from the same infected batches have also been planted.

Eradication is also being carried out under departmental supervision at the 57 non-forest locations (ie roadsides, horticultural nurseries, garden centres, AEOS/REPS farms and private gardens).

In addition to the 39 forest plantations that to date have tested positive there are 161 additional associated forest sites that were planted with ash from the same batches of trees, a total of 200 sites that require clearance. Forest Service has worked with the forestry contractors, the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) and the landowners.

The disease is relatively new to science and has spread rapidly in continental Europe over the past 10 years and is now widespread in several countries, including parts of the UK where it was first detected in 2012. Following confirmation of a finding of the disease in Ireland in October 2012 (on plants imported from continental Europe), a major winter survey of ash plantations was undertaken by the department, focusing on trees planted between 2008 and 2012.

The survey has now been broadened to an ongoing growing season survey of ash planted over a much wider period.

In addition to the plantation survey, department officials are also surveying hedgerows, nurseries, roadside, landscape and farm plantings. In March of this year the department launched a reconstitution scheme to help forest owners participating in afforestation schemes who have been affected by ash dieback. A grant of up to a maximum of €1,500 per ha is available to cover the cost of clearing the site. Additional funding is also available to cover the cost of replanting with an alternative species. According to the department, so far 169 applications have been received for support under this scheme.

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