ANYBODY who has planted an ash tree in the past six years is being urged to contact the Peak Park Authority in a bid to a prevent a killer disease spreading.
The appeal is part of a national alert over ash dieback disease, caused by the fungus chalara fraxinea, which poses a serious threat to Peak District woodlands.
Access to woodlands in the national park remains unaffected, but the authority is asking people to be vigilant about cleaning footwear, clothing, cycles and buggies – so as not to transfer the fungus from one site to another.
People are also being warned to choose alternatives to ash in any new tree-planting schemes.
The national park contains around 900 hectares of ash woodland and iconic landscapes – such as Lathkill Dale, Dovedale, Monsal Dale and the Manifold and Wye Valleys – would be changed forever by a serious outbreak of the disease.
These woodlands also support a rich profusion of wild flowers, insects, mammals and birds, which would in turn be devastated.
Jane Chapman, head of environment and economy for the Peak District National Park Authority sent her reassurances that the Peak District is “open for business and people should continue to enjoy the area as normal”.
However, she warned: “This is a serious disease and if it took hold in our woodlands it would change some of our most iconic landscapes irreversibly.
“No cases have been found in the Peak District, but if we are going to get an outbreak, new trees are the most likely source of infection.
“For this reason we’re asking anyone who has planted any ash trees in the national park in the last six years to contact us, be they individual trees or part of a larger planting scheme.”
People who have planted ash in the past six years should contact the authority’s customer service team on 01629 816200 or firstname.lastname@example.org – giving their name, contact details and the location.
Meanwhile, if anybody suspects they have found an ourbreak, they can check the symptoms through the Forestry Commission’s website, www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara and contact the Forestry Commission on email@example.com or 0131 314 6414.