Spread of ash dieback highlights outdated forest policies

7 October 2013: The Environmental Pillar is extremely alarmed for the future prospects of our native ash trees, now that it has been confirmed that ash dieback has been discovered in a native ash tree in a hedgerow in Leitrim. The site is close to where the disease was first found in a commercial plantation of introduced trees in November 2012.

Environmental Pillar spokesperson Andrew St Ledger said:
‘This was an accident waiting to happen, which jeopardises our native ash tree stock. It highlights the need for urgent reform of our outdated forestry policy, and shows the complete lack of focus on enhancing, preserving, and expanding our native woodlands. Trees such as ash should be sourced locally, using native seed which benefits local economies, creating and supporting local Irish jobs.’
The Environmental Pillar reiterates its concerns that importing trees does not make economic sense and also leaves our native forests vulnerable to increased threats caused by climate change. The Convention on Biological Diversity 1993 to which Ireland is a signatory was created to combat these very threats. It urges nations to specifically focus on enhancing, preserving and expanding their native trees to protect global biodiversity.
The message of the Convention seems to have been ignored in Ireland as the majority of our tree cover (at a very low 11%, compared to an EU average of 30% tree cover) is made up of non-native species.

‘Forestry in Ireland is a house of cards when it comes to disease. Our policy of actively filling the country with monocultures of exotic trees means all our eggs are in one basket,’ Mr St Ledger concluded.

The Environmental Pillar’s Treecover Policy can be found here
The Environmental Pillar has previously issued this statement on ash dieback.