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Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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Alarm as first case of ash dieback found

THE killer tree disease ash dieback has claimed its first Cumbrian victim, ravaging specimens at an unnamed Aspatria nursery.

Forestry Commission officials are not naming the nursery, which has joined 184 sites across Britain as the epidemic continues to spread.

Ash dieback was discovered in Aspatria last week, and it is believed the trees were only recently planted.

It was feared that West Cumbria’s famous ash trees in Borrowdale and St John’s-in-the-Vale were at risk of the deadly fungal disease, also known as Chalara fraxinea.

There are nearly 2,500 hectares of ash woodland and well over 500,000 ash trees in Cumbria, and garden centre bosses are preparing for the worst.

Ash dieback, which has wiped out swathes of trees in Europe, was discovered in Buckinghamshire in February. Young trees are particularly susceptible.

But a spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said the cold winter months could be the nation’s saving grace.

She confirmed the infection remains dormant, but called on the public to continue looking for signs of ash dieback in ash trees.

There is little evidence of ash dieback being dispersed through spores on clothing, or migrating birds.

Defra is recruiting a “people’s army” to help hunt down any un-registered cases.

The Forestry Commission website has a whole section dedicated to the ash dieback disease including a list of all symptoms.

See www.forestry.gov. uk/chalara

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