Published: Thu, 31 March 2016
Sean Kelly MEP has voiced fresh concerns for Irish and European Ash trees as a new study has warned that an emerald borer beetle and the fungus causing ash dieback disease could kill millions of ash trees in Europe.
Around 115 cases of Ash Dieback were recorded across 19 counties in Ireland by January 2016, according to Department of Agriculture findings.
“A new study by tree ecologists at Keele University in the UK, published in the Journal of Ecology, has warned that ash dieback and the emerald ash borer could wipe out all European Ash trees.
“The emerald borer beetle is now in Sweden and the experts are concerned that it could spread right across Europe. They argue that the beetle is an even bigger threat than Ash Dieback to European Ash trees.
“Meanwhile, Ash Dieback spores can be transported by the breeze as far as 10 miles in distance and can survive on woodland ground for up to five years. We know all too well how difficult it is to deal with in Ireland,” Mr Kelly said.
Department of Agriculture research up to January 2016 suggests there are currently 115 plantations with positive samples of Ash Dieback over 19 counties: Carlow; Cavan; Clare; Cork; Galway; Kildare; Kilkenny; Leitrim; Limerick; Longford; Mayo; Meath; Roscommon; Sligo; Tipperary; Waterford; Westmeath; Wexford; and Wicklow.
However, some Ash trees are more resistant to the fungus and research is ongoing in the UK to determine which trees would be better for future planting and more resistant to the fungus, which could be useful according to MEP Kelly.
The Ireland South MEP previously commended the work of Cork based Treemetrics, which has the capability to use satellite imagery to identify where Ash Dieback is happening in Ireland and where it is likely to occur which would help those trying to eradicate it.
The former GAA President says Ash Dieback poses a particular threat to the traditional Hurley Stick, which is made from Ash wood, because an outbreak of the fungus can spread rapidly and destroy the trees quickly.