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Ash dieback project launches International Year of Plant Health

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Ash dieback project launches International Year of Plant Health

Chief Plant Health Officer plants the first ash dieback resistant tree in the new Ash Archive

There has been positive coverage of the launch of the Ash Archive, a pioneering project to tackle the devastating tree disease, ash dieback. It was covered in The Guardian, Daily Mail, Horticulture Week and Yorkshire Post.

The archive has been established using £1.9 million of government funding and is the culmination of projects spanning 5 years to identify ash with a high tolerance to the disease. It is a major step towards maintaining and restoring ash in the British landscape and will provide the basis for a breeding programme of tolerant ash over time enabling the development of orchards producing commercially available seed.

Nicola Spence, Defra Chief Plant Health Officer, said:

I’m delighted to acknowledge the successes of the Ash Archive project and welcome the International Year of Plant Health by planting an ash dieback-tolerant tree.

This is a damaging disease to our native ash trees as well as our timber industry. That’s why since 2012, the Government has invested more than £6m into ash dieback research and £4.5m to strengthen border security. As it stands, we currently have some of the most stringent import controls in Europe.

Alongside these measures it is vital that we continue to work on securing our ash trees for the future, so I’m thrilled to see the progress that has been made with the Ash Archive and look forward to the advances we can make with breeding these trees further.

Lord Gardiner, Biosecurity Minister, said:

The International Year of Plant Health is a timely reminder of the importance of our natural environment and the action that is required, from Government and beyond, to protect our island’s rich heritage of trees and plants from dangerous diseases such as ash dieback.

That is why we are committed to funding innovation in this field. We look forward to continuing our work with Future Trees Trust and Forest Research to develop a genetic collection of trees that will contribute to keeping the iconic ash tree prevalent in our landscapes.

This initiative marks the beginning of the International Year of Plant Health – a global initiative to raise awareness on the importance of healthy plants and trees to protecting nature, the environment and boosting economic development.

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