Ash dieback now in all 26 counties to a ‘greater or lesser extent’

Ash dieback is present to a greater or lesser extent in all 26 counties in Ireland, the Department of Agriculture has said.

Ash dieback, also known as Chalara, is a disease of ash trees caused by the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus.

To date in 2016, that is up to June 30, findings of the disease have been confirmed in a further 49 forestry plantations, bringing the current total for forestry plantations to 164.

Four of these new forestry findings were in counties where there had previously been no confirmed findings in forestry plantations, the Department said.

This increased the distribution of findings in forestry plantations from 19 to 21 counties.

In the same period (to date in 2016) there was also one confirmed finding in a commercial nursery and two confirmed findings in farm landscaping / agri-environment scheme plantings in County Tipperary.

There was 11 individual samples taken from trees in roadside / motorway landscaping plantings in counties Galway, Kildare, Laois, and Westmeath which tested positive, and 13 individual samples taken from trees in native hedgerows in Counties Roscommon, Tipperary, Wexford, and Wicklow which tested positive, the Department found.

The findings in trees in native hedgerows in County Wexford were the first findings in that context in that county.

Taken together these new findings have widened the general geographic distribution of the disease and confirm the presence to a greater or lesser extent of the disease in all 26 counties in Ireland.

Non-planting of ash

In December 2012 the Department delisted ash as a tree species approved under the afforestation grant schemes and shortly thereafter delisted ash from the trees species approved under the agri-environment options scheme (AEOS, now GLAS).

Then, in 2013 the European Commission approved the Department’s application to allow farmers participating in the current agri-environment schemes, who had concerns regarding ash plants planted under the schemes showing symptoms of ash dieback, to apply to remove the ash plants under force majeure.

The National Roads Authority also agreed in 2013 to suspend the use of ash in any roadside/motorway plantings and since then it uses alternative species. Coillte also made a policy decision not to replant with ash.