Monday, 27 May 2013


Kells Felling.
Passing part of the old Headfort Estate, along the Dublin Road close to Kells at Easter 2014, I noticed a new construction site where a large number of mature trees had just been felled. These were beautiful healthy trees, all on the site perimeter and their felling was unneeded. They were also felled in bird nesting time, something that we are told should be strictly controlled and discouraged. The Department Of Agriculture informed me later that “Felling License, FL15642 was issued, for the felling of 25 trees in order to facilitate the construction of a primary care centre and that the relevant district Forest Service Inspector assessed the application from a silvicultural and environmental point of view. Meath County Council were also contacted. It seems sad, even amazing that this still goes on. Why build a primary care centre over a mile from the town centre, especially when much of the town centre lies derelict and empty? What possible silvicultural and environmental point of view can explain the unnecessary felling of trees, except to get rid of them. How long can our towns spread away from their empty shells before they too lose the ability to recover? It seems that the old habit of placing development over sustainable planning, nature conservation, beauty or the look of our land is as secure as ever. Only climate change perhaps, can change us?

Ash Die Back.
Chalara fraxinea, is a disease of Ash trees that causes leaf loss, crown dieback and almost always leads to tree death. Ash trees suffering from this infection have been found widely across Europe since trees infected with this newly identified pathogen were reported dying in large numbers in Poland in 1992. It has been widely know that it was spreading about since 2002. In Denmark it has been reported that half the ash trees there have died due to this pathogen. These have included forest trees, trees in urban areas such as parks and gardens and also young trees in nurseries. In February 2012 it was found in England, in a consignment of infected trees sent from a nursery in the Netherlands. Since then it has been found in a growing number of locations all across England and Scotland. All of these sites had received stocks of young ash plants from European nurseries within the past five years. In October 2012, English Forestry scientists confirmed a small number of cases in East Anglia, in ash trees not associated with recently supplied nursery stock. It is now widespread and the UK authorities say it cannot be contained.
It was found in Ireland in October 2012. Since then it has been spreading and has now been found in many places across the Island of Ireland. Our hedges contain much ash and many of them are already infected yet the reckless unneeded mechanized cutting of these hedges continues; by our local authorities and by Government financed farm schemes and these looks certain to spread this disease fast across our land. For if a flail flails one hedge and then moves on to the next one and if just one plant is infected, how can the spread of this pathogen be either seen or avoided. Appeals for a stop to this have been made but they fall on deaf ears and indifference....and so Ash Dieback spreads and spreads. We loose more foliation; vital for life and for our future.

How did it happen. Ask how this damaging diseases spread through Europe might have been curtailed and you’ll open up a can of worms that raises troubling questions about the nature of free trade and its potentially devastating consequences for national plant biosecurity. Prof Clive Brasier, the highly regarded British plant pathologist specializing in tree diseases, neatly summed up the dilemma by describing it as trade at any cost, arguing that the UK’s independent plant health controls have been sacrificed in the interests of EU membership. Pointing to the dramatic increases in the frequency of damaging plant pathogen importations over the past decade, he suggested that the UK is now in danger of losing much of its historic tree and forest heritage. His blunt conclusion was that the European plant security “door” is, quite simply, off its hinges. Fionnuala Fallon. The Irish Times. Saturday, October 13, 2012.

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