Oxfordshire Green Party

Greens warn against complacency as Ash Dieback heads towards Oxford

9 April 2013

A disease known to have killed about 90% of the ash trees in Denmark, the fungal disease Chalara Fraxinea (or Ash Dieback as it is more commonly called), is spreading towards Oxford. Last November several hundred trees were destroyed near Bicester in an attempt to slow down the spread of the disease. Isolated cases were found only last month near Banbury and Chipping Norton.

Official reports from Defra have recorded a case in Stockenchurch (on the Bucks/Oxon border) at the end of last year (http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara)

The fungus spreads by leaf litter and is thought to advance at the rate of around 1km per month. This would mean that it could reach Oxford this summer.
The affected trees suffer leaf loss and crown dieback usually resulting in death. Ash are the third commonest tree in the UK and many of our City’s nature reserves are full of ash. For example, 65% of the trees in the Aston’s Ayot (in East Oxford) are Ash. Thousands of the City’s estimated 90,000 trees could be affected.

The Greens are asking for the City to consult more widely with local conservation groups and develop a concerted plan of action aligned with Defra’s own plan of action ( www.defra.gov.uk/news/2012/11/09/wms-ash/) which seeks to reduce the spread of the disease, develop resistance in the native population and encourage more effective tree management.

Says Cllr David Williams, who raised the issue as a question at the last Full City Council meeting and whose City Ward includes Aston’s Ayot; “Many people might think that, as a City, we can take a more relaxed approach to Ash Dieback. But, in fact, the reverse is true. In the City, we have so few trees and green spaces we need to double our efforts to protect them. Imagine the devastating impact on the City if thousands, or even tens of thousands, of City trees died.”

Cllr Williams has been discussing the matter with Ian Brookes, the City Officer responsible for the management of the City’s green spaces and has asked the Parks officers to meet with representatives of all the Oxford Nature Reserves to form an ‘army of volunteers’ willing to try and tackle the problem.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY with members of the Friends of Aston's Ayot willing to be on the' frontline' in the war against Ash dieback.

FMI Cllr David Williams 01865 765852

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