Nov 7 2012
A disease threatening the future of ash trees has been found in seven sites in Scotland.
The Forestry Commission Scotland carried out a "rapid response" survey to measure the spread of chalara dieback and found five infected sites at Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway, Carrbridge in the Highlands, Blairgowrie in Perthshire, Montrose in Angus and Eyemouth in the Borders. They join previously identified sites near Kilmacolm in Renfrewshire and at a private nursery in Moray.
A further 136 of the 2,730 sites surveyed over 80,000 sq km (49,709 miles) showed "potential symptoms" of the fungal disease.
Chalara dieback is threatening to wipe out the majority of the UK's ash trees. It has already killed up to 90% of ash trees in some areas of Denmark.
Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said the results of the survey were to be "cautiously welcomed".
The infected sites will be revisited for further examination, the commission said.
Mr Wheelhouse said: "Although the rapid survey has been completed, and the results are to be cautiously welcomed, we still need to be vigilant and there is no room for complacency.
"To establish the extent of the disease, Forestry Commission Scotland has been carrying out a rapid survey involving inspecting 2,730 ash sites across Scotland. Action is also under way to trace the destination of plants sent out from potentially infected nurseries."
The Forestry Commission said the disease only spreads in summer so there is now an opportunity to take appropriate action.
There is no risk to human or animal health and there is no need to restrict public access to woodlands either, the commission said.