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United Kingdom : O Neill and Hayes underline importance of co-operation on plant health.

Forestry Ministers Michelle O Neill and Minister of State Tom Hayes have highlighted the importance of continued co-operation in tackling plant disease throughout Ireland.

The Ministers were speaking at the All-Ireland Chalara ash dieback Conference in Dundalk, where they informed delegates that findings of the disease throughout the island of Ireland have been limited mainly to recently imported material.

Chalara ash dieback is a serious disease of ash trees and has been found in the North in recently established ash woodlands, which have been planted with imported ash trees.

Speaking at the conference Minister O Neill said: "My Department is committed to enhancing tree and plant health on an all-Ireland basis and since the launch of the All-Ireland Chalara Control Strategy in July last year, Minister Hayes and I have been working hard through the North South Ministerial Council to encourage co-operation on the island to enhance plant health status, to respond to tree and plant disease outbreaks and to share knowledge and experience.

"This is an objective that Minister Hayes and I share and I welcome the opportunity that this conference provides to enable us to learn more about the Chalara ash dieback, the experience of this disease in Ireland, Britain and the Continent. I hope that this provides a better understanding of the challenges we face and how best we can prepare for the future."

Minister Hayes gave an up to date position on the number of occurrences of the disease in the South where he said that there were a total of 120 confirmed findings of the disease located throughout the country. Of these, 47 are located in forests, with the remainder at non-forest locations. Minister Hayes said that it was vital that all stakeholders come together: "to explore and develop ways of minimising both the economic and environmental impacts of this disease in Ireland and Great Britain. As a native species, ash has important heritage and ecological values and it is incumbent on us all to protect this species as best we can."

The conference was attended by over 100 delegates across the Island and provided an update on the current scientific understanding of the pathogen/host interaction, experience of the disease in Ireland, Britain and Norway, the potential impact of the disease on nature conservation in Ireland, research into modelling spread of ash dieback and potential disease management strategies. Participants took part in small discussion groups in the afternoon session to address a number of key questions about: control of the disease, research priorities, and better public engagement and how we can adapt our tree and woodland management to provide greater resilience in response to new plant health threats.

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Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 9, 2014
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