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Ash dieback disease

Chalara fraxinea or Ash dieback disease affects ash trees.  It is a fungus which causes leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees, and it can lead to tree death.

Chalara fraxinea is being treated as a quarantine pest under national emergency measures, and it is important that suspected cases of the disease are reported.

National legal restrictions on the import and movement of ash

New legislation approved by DEFRA’s Secretary of State took effect on 29 October. It:

  • Prohibits all imports of ash plants, trees and seeds into Great Britain until further notice (as no pest free areas are established)
  • Prohibits all movements of ash plants, trees and seeds within Great Britain until further notice (as no pest free areas are in place)
  • Continues to permit logs, woodchips and firewood, which pose a very low risk of disease transmission especially when they are kiln dried, to be imported from EU countries. In the unlikely event that this material is found to contain infection, action such as destruction will be ordered
  • Continues to permit movements within Great Britain of all ash timber, which poses a very low risk of disease transmission
  • Continues to permit imports of sawn ash timber from certain countries abroad under existing regulations against the forestry pest Emerald Ash Borer. These require the material to be accompanied by official phytosanitary (plant health) certificates declaring that the material either originated in areas known to be free of EAB or that the wood is bark-free (which addresses the Chalara risk as well) before entering Great Britain. Imported woodchips and bark of ash material have the same certification requirements as for wood, but the alternative to originating in an area of pest freedom is that the material has been processed into pieces of not more than 2.5cm thickness and width.


Over the coming autumn and winter, businesses producing and trading ash will be inspected and authorised to issue plant passports to accompany the material.

The full legislation is available at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/2707/contents/made

Reporting of the disease

If you think you have found ash with the disease, it is important to report this as soon as possible. Suspected cases should be reported to one of the following: 

  1. Forestry Commission: 0131 314 6156 or FCScotlandenquiries@forestry.gsi.gov.uk
  2. Fera: 01904 465 625 or planthealth.info@fera.gsi.gov.uk.


Reports should also be copied to Fife Council by emailing Nature.info@fife.gov.uk (please do not use this address for general Chalara enquiries).

For further information

Further information about Chalara fraxinea is available on the Forestry Commission website at:  http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara

or see the attached publication.

For smartphone users, a free 'Ashtag' app makes it possible for anyone to take a photo of diseased leaves, shoots or bark and send it remotely to plant pathologists to identify whether or not the tree is infected. Go to http://ashtag.org/. People without a smartphone can join the campaign by uploading digital photos and location details direct to the AshTag website.

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