Killer tree disease reaches East Sussex

Young ash tree showing dieback of foliage caused by Chalara fraxinea fungus
Young ash tree showing dieback of foliage caused by Chalara fraxinea fungus

A FUNGAL disease that is sweeping through Northern Europe destroying hundreds of ash trees has been confirmed in woodland in East Sussex.

The Forestry Commission says that, following an urgent survey to seek out traces of the disease, known as Chalara dieback of ash (fraxinea fungus) a case has been confirmed in the county. Martin Ward, chief plant officer said the discovery of the disease in East Sussex brings the total number of confirmed sites in the UK to 237, adding: “Although the rate at which we are discovering new areas infected with the Chalara fraxinea fungus is slowing, there are still results coming through from our surveying exercise and reports from landowners and the public.

“The better informed we are the more effective we can be in our work to contain the spread and impact of the disease.”

Sussex is the most wooded county in the UK and, because the woodlands contain a high proportion of ash trees, makes them particularly vulnerable to the spread of dieback.

A spokesman for Rother District Council (RDC) said there had been no reported cases in Rother but urged people to keep their eyes open. “We would ask people to be vigilant and report cases on Rother land. The best place to go for information or if you have any enquiries on ash tree dieback generally, is the Forestry Commission who are coordinating the effort nationally.”

Greg Barker, MP, said the disease could have a devastating impact, adding: “It’s vital that we take action. The Government has introduced a ban on ash imports as well as restrictions on the movement of trees. Ministers continue to work closely with the Forestry Commission and government scientists to learn more about the disease, prevent further infection and slow its spread.”

There are no plans to stop public access to forests and woodland. The latest information on ash tree dieback, how to identify it and how to report it can be found on the Forestry Commisssion website at: