12:47 11 November 2012
Ash dieback cannot be eradicated – this is what Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has acknowledged recently. As it cannot be cured or removed completely at this time, the secretary says the efforts are now focused on slowing down the spread of the disease. He also confirmed that young trees affected will be cut down; the same cannot be said for the mature or older trees where developing resistance would be the best option.
The Secretary said: "The scientific advice is that it won't be possible to eradicate this disease now that we have discovered it in mature trees in Great Britain."
He added: "However, that does not necessarily mean the end of the British ash."
"If we can slow its spread and minimise its impact, we will gain time to find those trees with genetic resistance to the disease and to restructure our woodlands to make them more resilient."
Prof Ian Boyd, Defra chief scientific adviser is positive that by next year, a solution to the problem would be found. He said at the briefing: "By next season, we could potentially have resistant forms of ash growing in this country."
He added: "We need to put in scientific research to try and get genetic markers for resistance so that we can go out into our current woodlands that have not been infected and identify trees that might survive relative to those who might not survive."
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