Since 2013, over 1,600ha of ash have been removed, costing the state over €4.4 million, according to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The minister was responding to a parliamentary question on the status of efforts to combat ash dieback – and if an assessment of the economic cost of the disease has been undertaken – made by independent TD Mattie McGrath.
In his reply to the Tipperary TD, Minister Creed said:
“March 2013, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine introduced a Reconstitution Scheme (Chalara Ash Dieback) to restore forests planted under the afforestation scheme which had suffered from or which were associated with plants affected by Chalara or Ash Dieback disease caused by the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus.”
The minister added that, in addition to the scheme, the Woodland Improvement Scheme was made available to owners of older ash plantations which would not qualify for the reconstitution scheme.
He noted that, in April 2018, the Department of Agriculture initiated a review of the policy response to Ash Dieback disease.
This process included a stakeholder and public consultation period and detailed field consideration of damage level evaluation together with a broader range of silvicultural and management options available to forest owners.
“The review was undertaken with the assistance of Teagasc and international experts.
“Current support schemes were reviewed to ensure the continued relevance of the department’s response and value for money for both the taxpayer and the individual owners, and to ensure that the forest owner is provided with a broader range of silvicultural and management options.
“Consideration is currently being given to the financial aspects associated with the introduction of a scheme which offers a wider range of options to the forest owner, with a view to finalising this in the near future.
“Since 2013, over 1,600ha of ash have been removed at a cost to the Exchequer of over €4.4 million,” the minister concluded.