The fungal disease could devastate the country's ash trees. Photo: Colin Grice CC-BY-SA-2,0

The fungal disease could devastate the country's ash trees. Photo: Colin Grice CC-BY-SA-2,0

A conservation charity in Scotland repeated pleas to walkers and other outdoor enthusiasts to wash their boots, bike wheels and car tyres after visiting woodland, following the announcement of suspected cases of ash dieback disease north of the border.

The Woodland Trust Scotland will be attending an emergency summit meeting today in London called to tackle tree diseases.

The trust was responding to the Forestry Commission Scotland’s announcement of new suspected cases of Chalara ash dieback in Scotland following the completion of a rapid-response survey yesterday.

Carol Evans, director of the Woodland Trust Scotland said: “It’s worrying that more confirmed and suspected cases of Chalara ash dieback have been identified in Scotland, although given the scale of the search that has been carried out we had expected to see some.

“Hopefully we’ll continue to see prompt action where infected trees have been found to try and ensure that the disease doesn’t spread further from these locations.

“It’s important to remember that this is just one of many diseases and pests that are threatening Scotland’s native trees and woods.

“The Woodland Trust is attending an emergency summit in London on Wednesday 7 November to review the question of tree diseases and pests in the UK.

“We need the Government to develop clear guidance for landowners on the best way to tackle the pests and diseases already present. Tighter biosecurity measures are also needed to stop new threats coming into the country.

“We would ask people visiting woods this autumn to keep to main paths, comply with any notices, and show tree diseases a clean pair of heels by following basic biosecurity measures, including washing footwear, bike and car tyres before visiting any other sites.”

Chalara ash dieback is a disease caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea. It affects ash trees and has had a devastating impact on the species in Europe. Its impact on Scotland’s ash trees could be as great as that from Dutch Elm disease, the charity said.

Any suspected cases of Chalara ash die back should be reported to the Forestry Commission as quickly as possible by email or by ringing 0131 314 6414 in Scotland.