IFA President, John Bryan and Michael Fleming, Farm Forestry Chairman following a meeting with Shane McEntee, Minister of State with responsibility for Forestry expressed serious concern that the new outbreaks of the Ash Dieback disease are a major threat to the survival of the ash population in Ireland.
Mr. Bryan questioned how the importation of forest plants from areas known to be infected by the Ash dieback disease had been allowed when strict regulatory controls were supposed to be in place under the EU Plant Health Directive.
“The new outbreaks of the Ash Dieback disease are very alarming”, said Mr. Bryan, “particularly since the disease has proven to be so invasive in other European countries, such as Denmark with 90% of the ash trees wiped out to date.
Mr. Bryan assured the Minister that farmers would co-operate to try to contain the further spread of the disease but said that the responsibility for the importation of the infected forest plants was with his Department.
Mr. Bryan said that the Minister must provide clear guidance on how to proceed and assurances that there are no repercussions or penalties under the Afforestation, REPS or AEOS schemes if the Department asks farmers to remove trees. He also stressed that there must be agreement from other agencies such as the National Roads Authority to remove all imported ash trees that pose any threat to further outbreaks.
“If we have any chance of containing the Ash Dieback disease we must act quickly while the disease is dormant”, said Mr. Bryan.