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Edinburgh council create plan to tackle ‘Ash tree epidemic’

Edinburgh Council will consider an action plan to tackle Ash Dieback. 

It is believed that Ash Dieback, a tree disease caused by a fungal pathogen will kill around 80% of ash trees across the UK. 

According to the Woodland Trust, the spores of this fungus can travel in the wind so it is possible that it arrived in the UK naturally.

However, it was also inadvertently imported on ash saplings. The UK was importing thousands of ash plants from infected parts of Europe until a ban came into place in 2012. This undoubtedly sped up the spread of the disease within the UK because the disease was able to spread from areas of new planting via wind to mature trees.

In Edinburgh, the disease has the potential to infect tens of thousands of Ash trees growing on both private and public land. 

low angle photography of green trees

Under the proposed plans, the council will undertake an exercise to assess the ash trees across the Council’s estate and, if necessary remove the diseased trees safely. 

The principal aim of this approach is to prevent trees from falling and causing damage or harm. A public information campaign will also be launched to advise residents about the plan and to provide advice to private owners. 

According to the council, while the removal is trees is unavoidable, it is their intention to exceed the number of Ash tree losses as part of the Million Tree City planting programme. 

Culture and Communities Convener, Cllr Donald Wilson, said: ‘Ash dieback is unfortunately a problem for councils and landowners throughout the UK and it’s vital that we take action now to ensure trees are safe and to protect property and people. The action plan lays out an approach for the next five to 10 years.

‘Through this plan, we will spread the word to residents to make sure they have all the information they need if they own or maintain an Ash tree.

‘In 2019, we became the first local authority to sign the tree charter and in doing so we pledged to keep nurturing, planting, celebrating, cherishing and increasing Edinburgh’s trees. Through this action plan we will make sure we’re approaching this threat in the most proactive way and ensure we’ll make sure Edinburgh is on the front foot in tackling this unfortunate situation.’

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