The environment Secretary, Owen Paterson has just last week (19 July 2013) announced a ban by the end of September on the import of Sweet Chestnut trees from areas that have been affected by an often fatal fungal blight.
What is Sweet Chestnut blight and where did it come from?
The Sweet Chestnut blight (cryphonectria parasitica) originated from Japan and was the culprit for the devastation of 3.5 billion trees across Europe and North America over a span of 20 years in the late 1930’s. Sweet Chestnut Blight was first detected in the UK in Warwickshire in 2011, where approximately half of 300 trees that had been imported and planted for the production of nuts became struck with the disease died.
What is being done in order to prevent Sweet Chestnut blight?
No risks are going to be taken by the Government with this ban of Sweet Chestnut trees in order to prevent a repeat of a similar threat that caused the Ash dieback disaster currently threatening Britain’s Ash population. With an estimated population of Sweet Chestnut trees at 44 million, which are largely concentrated in the lighter soils of Southern Britain, and provide an invaluable coppice species, the Government proposals are extremely welcome.
The Sweet Chestnut ban comes after tighter controls have already been introduced on the import of Oak, Ash and Plane trees. It has also coincided with the setting up of a new register for diseases and pests threatening UK’s trees and plants, of which Sweet Chestnut blight is listed, after the recommendation of an independent tree health task force.
David Challice said, “All of these measures are gladly received in order to ensure the protection and survival of our cherished tree population and to promote tree health to national attention. I was extremely pleased to read the statement made by Owen Paterson that said, ‘ tree health is one of my top priorities and I’m determined to act swiftly to protect our woodland and the thriving economy that relies on it’.”
For more information on Sweet Chestnut blight visit: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-8s5qbf
Additionally, if you are concerned about a Sweet Chestnut on your property of development please get in touch with our office and we can arrange for David to come out and survey the tree.