MP joins calls to help stop tree disease spreading

By Gary Smee Thursday 08 November 2012 Updated: 08/11 13:33

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Buy photos » People are being urged to look out for symptoms of ash dieback. (s)

PERSHORE'S MP Harriett Baldwin has joined two conservation charities in their calls for the public to help prevent the spread of a serious tree disease.

The West Worcestershire MP has asked people to look out for signs of fungus on Ash trees and send mobile phone snaps to the Forestry Commission.

Ash Dieback disease has taken hold in northern Europe but cases are starting to be discovered across the UK. The disease is spread by wind-borne spores produced between June and September and causes Ash trees to die.

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation have also issued warnings this week and said this will not only impact the landscape but would be devastating for the area's wildlife including more than 30 species of butterfly and moth which are dependent on Ash trees in some way.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has written to Mrs Baldwin briefing her on the measures the Government is taking to prevent the disease from spreading including a ban on moving Ash saplings.

He is due to speak at the West Worcestershire Conservative Association annual dinner at Worcester Cricket County Cricket Club on November 23.

Mrs Baldwin said they needed the public’s help to make sure county woodlands were not affected.

"Our local woodlands are not at immediate risk but it would be a great help if people looked out for Ash trees that don’t look in good condition," she said.

"The Forestry Commission has a great website to help you identify signs of the disease and there is an e-mail address for sending in evidence.

"While people are out this enjoying the autumn views, walkers can be part of a national effort to save the Ash."

The fungus infects 60 to 90 per cent of the trees in its path, causing leaf loss, bark lesions and crown dieback. Young ash trees are killed very rapidly by the disease.

Older trees often resist the disease for longer periods but succumb with prolonged exposure. In Europe the fungus has affected 90 to 95 per cent of Denmark’s ash trees and has spread to 21 European countries.

The Forestry Commission has a dedicated area of its website aimed at helping people to spot and prevent the spread of the disease including bio-security measures such as rinsing bikes and washing outer clothing layers.

The site at www.forestry.gov.uk also shows videos on how to spot the disease and where to send evidence of diseased trees.

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