The purpose of the all-Ireland Control Strategy for Chalara is to provide an all island framework for the policy of identification, control and eradication of the causal agents of Chalara (ash dieback) a major threat to our ash trees.
The draft control strategy has been developed jointly with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland (DARD) to ensure that there is a comprehensive and effective response to the threat of ash dieback caused by Chalara fraxinea establishing on the island. The document itself has been subject to a public consultation process, the deadline for submissions was the 30th April 2013. Submissions received are now being studied by my Department and DARD and therefore it is somewhat premature to make a statement on what new measures might arise from this process.
After comprehensive discussions and a number of meetings, the All-Ireland Chalara Control Strategy was drafted by officials in both Department of Rural Development Northern Ireland and my Department. The document deals with many areas and outlines strategies on four key objectives.
Objective 1 is in relation to reducing the risk of the disease becoming established in the wider environment. This is obviously the key objective and centres around the maintenance of legal measures to restrict the entry of ash plants and wood, surveillance for the disease, destruction of the disease where it occurs and destruction of the associated batches.
Objective 2 is to support research efforts. The strategy document outlines the concrete steps Ireland has already taken in relation to collaborating with our partners in the UK in relation to breeding ash trees for resistance to the disease.
Objective 3 outlines the benefits that can be drawn by involving industry, landowners, voluntary organisations and the general public as partners in the strategy to assist the surveillance and destruction effort.
Objective 4 aims to build resilience in woodland and to support industries associated with ash. Within this objective it is recognised that there is a risk that ash dieback will become established here in the long term. In response to this risk and the long timeframe associated with managing woodland, action to consider how to adapt to the disease’s possible impact and minimise its effect on our trees and woodlands, whether for timber production, for their biodiversity benefits, or for access and recreation, needs to be taken now.
My Department’s officials continue to meet representative groups and individuals in relation to the disease on a regular basis. Both my Department and DARD have each received many submissions on the draft All Ireland Chalara Control Strategy document. The Pest Risk Analysis for Chalara fraxinea is also being completed in the coming weeks and it is important that this document will also feed into the Strategy document. My Department expects further dialogue with our counterparts in Northern Ireland within the coming weeks after which the finalised Strategy will be published in a month’s time.