press statement on ash dieback (chalara fraxinea) in cumbria

“I am extremely saddened to hear that the first case of ash dieback has been found here in Cumbria, in Aspatria. Given our county’s woodland cover – and the great importance of our ash trees culturally, environmentally and of course economically – I shall be convening an emergency meeting of our constituency forestry and woodlands think-tank as soon as possible to discuss the developing situation in Britain, and in particular the potential impact of endemic disease on Cumbria. The importance of this cannot be underestimated. I very much support the government’s proposed strategy of intense surveillance, awareness-raising, and focussing action on newly-planted trees; of course, moving forward, we need to identify how we can protect our trees in the future. We are facing a real tragedy for our native woodlands, and we need to prepare ourselves as best we can.

I’d also like to pay tribute to the many hundreds of people from government agencies and other associated groups who have urgently surveyed over 2,500 sections of UK land in the last days – the biggest operation of its kind ever undertaken.”

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