FORESTRY Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced the introduction of further emergency legislation putting in place safeguards on the imports of ash wood and bark.
The measure, in tandem with similar legislation in the Dáil in Dublin, was taken to help prevent the introduction of Chalara ash dieback, a disease of ash trees which is caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea.
Minister O’Neill said: “After consulting stakeholders we found that there are regular imports of ash logs for manufacturing purposes, mainly hurley sticks, and for fire wood. As a potential pathway for the disease, it is an unacceptable risk. This new legislation means that from today, ash can only be imported under certain technical conditions as set out in the order.”
The minister added: “I believe this is a proportionate response to the risk of introducing disease in wood, but which will allow manufacturers to continue producing hurley sticks.”
Logs of ash with bark attached can only be imported if they are accompanied by an official statement that the wood originates in an area known to be free from Chalara fraxinea. However, the risk reduces substantially if the wood receives some simple treatment for which the Order provides.
Further information on the disease and reporting findings is available at http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/preventing-the-spread-of-tree-disease.