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Exmoor ash dieback fight costing £300k

Friday, 12 April 2024 15:37

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

Ashes to ashes (image courtesy: Jonathan Larson/Unsplash)

More cash stumped up to root out problems

Fighting the tree disease ash dieback on Exmoor National Park is set to hit £300,000.

The authority that oversees the park is budgeting a further £25,000 this financial year to combat the disease, bringing the total to that landmark figure.

While the park hopes the latest cash will help it overcome ash dieback throughout the park, its head of finance and operations, Ben Barrett, acknowledged this isn’t entirely certain.

“We hope it will be gone after this latest spending, but if not, we will have to continue to tackle it,” he said.

Ash dieback, or ADB, has been present and spreading in the UK since at least 2012 and in Exmoor National Park since at least 2013.

The disease is caused by a fungus called Hymenoschyphus fraxineus (previously known as Chalara), which is native to northern China and parasitises the species of ash native to that area.

Because native European ash species didn’t evolve with the fungus it can’t defend itself and usually succumbs, leading to decline and the likely death of the tree.

It appears from studies so far that only 5-10 per cent of ash trees infected survive, and there are an estimated 800,000 ash trees in Exmoor National Park.

As one of Exmoor’s landowners, the Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) is required under the Occupiers’ Liability Act to be aware of and respond to risks posed by trees on its estate.

The ENPA said it believed about 40,000 ash trees were present on land it owned.

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