The number of cases of a deadly tree disease is likely to continue climbing said one charity, after revelations that its spread in Ireland has taken a fresh turn.
It was announced last week that an ash tree in a hedgerow in Leitrim, bordering Northern Ireland, had fallen victim to the killer ash dieback disease.
The sickness had been linked to imported trees and saplings, and though it had been found in newly-planted sites across the island, this is believed to be the first case to have taken hold in the wider environment.
Patrick Cregg of the Woodland Trust, which has now been warning for more than a year of the threat posed to Northern Ireland, said: “This first ‘wider environment’ case is disappointing, but unfortunately not unexpected... there are now hundreds of confirmed wider environment cases across the UK, and it’s expected to spread.”
Cillian Lohan, member of eco umbrella group Environmental Pillar, said it may be “impossible to control it if it’s now being spread in an airborne manner into our native trees”.
The news came just as the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development announced that another tree disease, p. ramorum, had also extended its spread across the Province.