A Europeanwide disease that has the potential to destroy Ireland’s ash trees has been found in Tipperary.
The infected site, in the Fethard area, is only the second natural hedgerow site in the country where the disease has been found since it was first identified in Ireland.
Since October 2012 more than 100 cases of ‘chalara fraxinea’ have been discovered but until recent weeks all were in plantations of young plants, imported from Europe.
Irish ash wood is in huge demand in Europe and the industry is worth €252 million annually. Ash is also an important cultural wood for use in hurley making. Currently the Department of Agriculture are pursuing an ‘eradication policy’ - diseased plants are dug out from the root and burned. Minister of State of Tom Hayes, who has responsibilty for forestry, described the spread of the disease as “a huge threat to national resources,” adding that the Department of Agriculture are taking the threat very seriously and are doing everything they can to control the outbreak. Extra inspectors have been engaged to survey ash plantations.
Landowners and those who enjoy the countryside are urged to become familiar with what the disease looks like and to be vigilant.
For more on this story see Farming P32.