IFA Farm Forestry Chairman, Pat Collins has welcomed the review of the national response to Ash Dieback disease to provide more management option to farmers. However, he said that the reconstitution element of the scheme must be available to all forest owners affected by the disease.
“The key problem with offering farmers more options to manage or mitigate the effects of Ash Dieback is that no efficient treatment or cure is known. The benefits of providing farmers with more management options is firstly to alleviate the immediate consequences of dieback to maximise commercial value, but mainly to potentially identify disease tolerant ash trees”.
Pat Collins said several studies have reported that a low proportion of trees, typically 1–5 per cent of the population, may possess a durable, high, but partial resistance to the disease.
“Management can play a key role in preserving potentially disease tolerant trees, however, if the management strategy is unsuccessful farmers must be able to avail of the reconstitution grant. There is still no scientific evidence that thinning infected plantation is beneficial in the long-term when Ash Dieback is present”.
He said that Ash Dieback has devastating consequences on the survival, growth and wood quality of the ash tree. “Research has shown that where dieback is severe, the best approach is to harvest remaining commercial timber before value depreciation and to replant the area with other tree species.
“As part of the review IFA is proposing that guidelines for consistent and repeatable inventory practices for ash dieback be developed to help farmers to determine appropriate management decisions for their site”, said Mr. Collins.
He said that farmers needed guidance to determine the extent and severity of Ash Dieback to aid their decision making to determine the best management options in their plantation, particularly considering the potential risk as a result of the loss of structural integrity in affected ash trees because of root rot.
Submissions to the Ash Dieback Consultation can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org before the 18th May 2018.