The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed a finding of the disease (Chalara fraxinea) at a site in Co Leitrim in the past few days. The disease is known as ash dieback and it is a first finding for Ireland. It causes significant damage and has spread rapidly in continental Europe where it is now widespread in several countries.
As a result of the detection, the Department is now working with the owner involved to destroy the material and remove the risk of the disease spreading. The Department is also investigating a number of other sites planted with imported ash trees from the same consignment which originated from continental Europe.
Emergency measures under the Plant Health Directive are also being introduced to try and contain the spread of this devastating disease. These new measures will require that any ash plants imported into the country come from an area known to be free of the disease. The Department is calling on the forest nursery trade and contractors to introduce a voluntary moratorium on imported stock from continental Europe with immediate effect.
Department officials have already been in contact with the forest nursery trade, hurley manufacturers, forest organisations and forestry contractors and will continue active consultation with these groups in order to brief them on the disease and the measures being taken.
Officials at the Department have recently met with their counterparts in Northern Ireland in order to co-ordinate an all island approach to tackling the disease. Department officials are also working closely with the relevant authorities in Great Britain.
Forest owners and members of the public are asked to be vigilant for the disease and report any sites where there are concerns about unusual ill health in ash to Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 01 6072651.
Symptoms to look for in ash include necrotic lesions on stems and branches leading to foliage wilt, dieback of branches and death of the top of the crown.