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Dublin: 5°C Wednesday 8 December 2021
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Ban on ash tree imports as fungus hits Ireland

70 per cent of Irish hurleys made from imported ash trees as GAA says it is “monitoring the situation closely”.

Dungarvan's Derek Barry and Jack Kennedy of De La Salle clash in last Sunday's Waterford Senior Hurling Final.
Dungarvan's Derek Barry and Jack Kennedy of De La Salle clash in last Sunday's Waterford Senior Hurling Final.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

THE DEPARTMENT OF Agriculture is implementing legislation that will allow for a ban on the import of ash trees from much of continental Europe, after a disease specific to the species appeared in Leitrim.

The deadly fungus chalara fraxina or ash die back was confirmed in a small plantation of 5,000 trees in the county, which will now be burned after the disease decimated 90 per cent of Denmark’s ash population and moved across other countries in northern Europe. Cases have already been discovered in several parts of the UK.

“Legal measures are being introduced that will require that any ash plants imported would only come from areas known to be free of the disease” Bill Whelan, a spokesperson for the Department of Agricultural told TheJournal.ie. “Forest nurseries have also voluntarily agreed to cease importation of continental European plants with immediate effect.”

However, identifying which trees have the disease will be made difficult by the autumn weather, one forester told TheJournal.ie.

“It’s getting late now and the ash is growing in colour, which will make their job difficult as the best time to identify the disease is when it is in full leaf which allows you to see the dying off” said Donal Magner of Magner Communications in Wicklow. However, diseases could still be detected by looking at lesions in the bark.”

More than 70 per cent of the 350,000 hurleys used every year in Ireland are made from imported ash.

A GAA spokesperson said they were “monitoring the situation closely”.

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