ICF Welcomes Government Control Plan for Chalara
Following today’s (6 December 2012) publication of the Defra interim control plan for Chalara fraxinea, or ash dieback, Shireen Chambers FICFor, Executive Director of the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF), commented on the plan and the crucial role that the ICF and its members are playing in the fight against ash dieback.
Scientific advice is that it is not possible to eradicate Chalara completely but the Defra control plan sets out key objectives, initial actions and a framework for the future.
Shireen said: “The ICF is part of a core group working with Defra officials to develop policy recommendations in response to Chalara. A key objective in the Defra plan is encouraging citizen, landowner and industry engagement in surveillance, monitoring and action. In October ICF took the first step towards a more cohesive industry approach, hosting a meeting of key UK forest plant buyers to discuss voluntary measures to reduce the risk of pests and diseases entering the country”.
“The current outbreak of Chalara ash dieback was most likely caused by importing infected plants from Europe where the disease is now widespread. It was only discovered for the first time in the UK February 2012 and has now been confirmed in over 75 locations across the country. The adoption of a ‘Charter Mark’ for UK origin plants, based on work begun by ICF, is held up by Defra as one of the key steps being taken to control the spread of this fungal pathogen.”
Shireen added: “Many members of the ICF are major players within the tree industry and we are working together to develop a voluntary chain of custody for forest nursery plants. It is hoped that other buyers and nurseries will also use the scheme and that this will provide people with the assurances they need that trees are free from disease.”
“The UK’s forests are under considerable threat and we need to ensure that our members are doing everything possible, from a biosecurity perspective, to reduce risk and are working responsibly. We welcome our members working cooperatively to set new industry procedures and also the steps being taken to bring plant health policy closer to the heart of Government.”
Full details of the Government strategy can be found on the Defra website http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2012/12/06/government-strategy-ash-dieback/