As Ash Dieback Spreads, West Lothian Is Facing A £12 Million Charge From The Lethal Tree Fungus.

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Over the next 18 years, ash dieback illness could cost West Lothian up to £12 million.

To combat the disease’s attack, the council may need to find £1 million every year for the next five years.

According to recent studies, the spread has accelerated in the last two years. The additional funds may be required to tackle the disease, according to a meeting of the council’s Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel.

Since Dutch Elm disease in the 1960s and early 1970s, Ash Dieback has been the most important tree disease to infect broad leaf trees in the United Kingdom.

Analysts believe that during the next two decades, up to 75 million ash trees in Scotland will die.

Authorities around the UK are developing action plans to address the risks posed by dead and diseased trees, which pose a serious threat to human safety as well as significant economic and environmental consequences.

Ash dieback has been established in West Lothian for a number of years, but it appears to have primarily damaged young trees until lately. It has grown considerably more obvious in mature trees in recent years, with a substantial rise expected in the summer of 2020.

A council-wide tree study is needed to determine the number and condition of all ash trees under council control, however two risk-based surveys have already been completed.

Over 35,000 ash trees could succumb to the illness in the next two decades, according to a survey of roadside trees.

The disease looks to be spreading quickly, with mature trees dying 3 to 5 years after contracting it. So far, half of the crowns of 17,000 roadside trees have been gone.

The council owns 41% of the trees, or 7,000, with the rest being owned by private individuals.

A comparable examination of other heavily used publicly accessible sites, such as active transportation corridors, open spaces around schools, play areas, and residential areas, confirmed the disease’s spread. According to preliminary estimates, another 10,000 people are already affected by Ash Dieback.

According to the surveys, nearly 17,000 council-owned trees in high-risk regions are already unhealthy and will fall within the next three to five years.

Over the next year, a survey of the remaining lower-risk woodland and open space areas will be completed.

Officers from West Lothian Council are currently working on the formulation of an Ash Dieback Action Plan, now that the scope of the disease is clear.

The final plan is expected to be in place by the end of 2021, allowing critical work to begin as soon as possible.

“Ash Dieback will have a big impact on our ecosystem and poses serious public safety, financial, and biodiversity risk at a time when the environment is being regarded more highly for its role to climate change,” said Tom Conn, executive councillor for the environment.

“Officers have started work on an Ash Dieback action plan that will follow national recommendations to assist minimise the disease’s impact on our local ash tree population as much as possible.”

The above post was originally published here.

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