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LATEST NEWS: Council to consider action plan to tackle Ash tree epidemic

Posted: 27th January 2022

Councillors will consider an action plan designed to better understand, plan for and respond to the growing number of trees in the capital affected by the tree epidemic, Ash Dieback.

If approved, the Council will undertake an exercise to assess the ash trees across the Council’s estate and, if necessary, remove the diseased trees safely.

It is believed that Ash Dieback, a tree disease caused by a fungal pathogen, will kill around 80% of ash trees across the UK and the Council is proposing a proactive approach to take immediate action in the Capital.

In Edinburgh, Ash Dieback has the potential to infect tens of thousands of Ash trees growing on both private and City of Edinburgh Council maintained land.

Affected trees quickly become brittle and may drop branches or fall over, which increases the risk of injury, property damage and road traffic accidents.

By adopting this risk-based approach, the principal aim is to prevent trees from falling and causing damage or harm. A public information campaign will also be launched to advise residents about the plan and to provide advice to private owners of affected trees.

While the removal of trees is sadly unavoidable, it is the intention through the action plan to exceed the number of Ash tree losses as part of the Million Tree City planting programme.

Culture and Communities Convener, Cllr Donald Wilson, said:
Ash dieback is unfortunately a problem for councils and landowners throughout the UK and it’s vital that we take action now to ensure trees are safe and to protect property and people. The action plan lays out an approach for the next five to 10 years.
Through this plan, we will spread the word to residents to make sure they have all the information they need if they own or maintain an Ash tree.

In 2019, we became the first local authority to sign the tree charter and in doing so we pledged to keep nurturing, planting, celebrating, cherishing and increasing Edinburgh’s trees. Through this action plan we will make sure we’re approaching this threat in the most proactive way and ensure we’ll make sure Edinburgh is on the front foot in tackling this unfortunate situation.

Culture and Communities Vice Convener Amy McNeese-Mechan, said:
It is really important that we look after Edinburgh’s wonderful tree legacy for future generations and so we must continue to take all necessary precautions when dealing with trees affected by ash dieback. We would also encourage private landowners who have trees on their properties to look for the signs and comply with current advice and regulations.

With this plan we hope to manage this process through a coordinated and programmed approach with a key element being the replanting of trees to offset anticipated losses. It is also positive to hear that new strains of disease-resistant trees are being developed and planned to make sure we don’t have to repeat this process. The Tree Council has provided guidance for homeowners and those with ash trees on their land.

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