Mugdock fears as ash disease spreads

COUNTRYSIDE managers are on high alert at the approach of a deadly disease that threatens to wipe out ash trees.

Rangers at Mugdock Country Park, just north of Milngavie, are anxiously waiting to see if specimens there will become infected.

The disease, called ash dieback, is caused by the Chalara fraxinea fungus and it has wreaked havoc in forests in Europe.

Now there are increasing numbers of cases being recroded in Britain - with one at Knockmountain woods in Kilmacolm, west of Glasgow.

It is feared the effects of the disease could be similar to Dutch Elm Disease, which wiped out mature elms in the 1970s.

Thomas Glen, East Dunbartonshire Council’s Head of Development and Infrastructure, said, “We have some ash trees within the country park, although it is not one of our predominant species.

“We have no reported cases within the park but are keeping a watching brief on the advice coming out from the Scottish Government.

“We will heed any advice and pass that to visitors to do whatever is necessary to help to prevent the spread of this disease.

“In the meantime we would encourage people to come to the park and enjoy the beautiful autumn colours in great surroundings.”

More than 150 Forestry Commission staff, and a Scottish government team, are working round the clock this week in a survey to look for signs of Chalara ash dieback.

In the last six weeks 100,000 ash trees have been destroyed in the UK.

Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Environment and Climate Change Minister, said: “Currently we have just two confirmed cases of the disease in Scotland but we expect that number to rise as the rapid survey progresses.

“We need to take unprecedented action to get a quick snapshot of how our ash trees are fairing in the wider forest and woodland environment.

“We need to know this quickly and all involved have rallied together to quite literally work round the clock to obtain this information.”