Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 13th February 2020.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps her Department has taken to help the UK's forests and woodlands recover from Ash Dieback; and what steps her Department is taking to prevent new diseases being imported.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Since ash dieback was first detected in the UK, the Government has invested more than £6 million to advance our scientific understanding of this disease. We have conducted the world’s largest screening trials for tolerant trees and last month planted 3,000 trees in the first UK archive of tolerant ash. This will provide the basis for a breeding programme of tolerant ash over time and is a major step towards landscape recovery.

Guidance for landowners on managing diseased ash has been published, including a toolkit for local authorities which has been downloaded over 18,500 times. Defra also provides restoration grants to support replanting with alternative species where ash dieback is present.

The UK has robust controls in place to prevent new diseases being imported, including a comprehensive system of inspections and surveillance and a statutory notification scheme for certain tree species. Thirty-five high risk host species, including many native tree species such as ash, oak, beech, willow and birch, are now provisionally prohibited from import to the UK from outside the EU, until a full risk assessment has been carried out.

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