A clampdown on importing another species of tree will not apply to Northern Ireland, the Government has said.
In a move that harks back to the arrival of the deadly ash dieback disease last year, Westminster’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is to halt imports of sweet chestnut in a bid to stop a blight affecting the species from gripping the UK.
The ban applies to importing trees from blight-hit areas and is due to come into effect before autumn, but yesterday DEFRA said that it only applied to England.
In the case of ash dieback last year, the authorities in both Belfast and Dublin only introduced an import ban after the disease was already uncovered in Co Leitrim.
Before that, large numbers of ash saplings were being imported into Ulster each year.
Today, several months on from the ban, the number of cases of ash dieback disease in the Province stands at 88.
The Woodland Trust’s Patrick Cregg suggested any import ban made by Westminster should also be considered for Northern Ireland.
“Our view is we should be actively taking due recognition of what’s happening in England,” he said.
He added lots of sweet chestnut was planted in Ulster in the 1600s, and handsome examples are to be found in places like the playing fields beside Cranmore Park, Belfast, beneath which King William’s troops were once said to have camped.