Press Release

Committee Investigates Tree Disease with Key Visits

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Friday, 12 April 2013

Reference: ARD 05/12/13

The Assembly Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development recently saw first-hand the issues surrounding tree disease with a visit to Belfast Harbour and Woodburn Forest.  The visits are a part of the Committee’s current investigation of tree disease. 

Committee Chairperson, Paul Frew MLA said: “The Committee has been finding that security at our entrance points is a real issue when it comes to the introduction of tree disease onto Northern Ireland’s shores.  We are still in the stage of evidence-gathering, but it seems that more needs to be done to tighten checks for plants and trees.  Belfast Harbour is usually the first port of call for the introduction of new foliage on our shores, so the visit has been useful in allowing the Committee to see just what goes on at this important barrier. 

“The Committee was also able to see first-hand a current tree disease in our forest, P.Rhamorum, with the visit to Woodburn Forest.  I am confident that the Committee will bring its experiences back from the visits and carefully consider them during the formulation of our recommendations for the way forward in dealing with and preventing tree and plant disease.”

Deputy Chairperson, Joe Byrne MLA said: “Tree diseases pose real threats to our forests and woodlands and are becoming a more frequent problem throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland.  This was proved with the current outbreak of Ash Dieback and the scenes of devastation that it caused. 

“I’m very pleased with the information that we have gathered during the visits.  It has enabled the Committee to see the situation on the ground and to better understand the logistical difficulties associated with tackling tree diseases in situ.  The information gathered will assist the Committee in exploring this issue more thoroughly and in making some useful recommendations to the Department."

ENDS

The Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development at Belfast Harbour. From L-R: Jo-Anne Dobson MLA; Paul Frew MLA (Chairperson); William Irwin MLA; Joe Byrne (Deputy Chairperson).

The Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development at Belfast Harbour. From L-R: Jo-Anne Dobson MLA; Paul Frew MLA (Chairperson); William Irwin MLA; Joe Byrne (Deputy Chairperson).

The Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development at Woodburn Forest.  From L-R: John Wilson, Forestry Service; Paul Frew MLA (Chairperson); William Irwin MLA; Joe Byrne MLA (Deputy Chairperson); Jo-Anne Dobson MLA.

The Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development at Woodburn Forest.  From L-R: John Wilson, Forestry Service; Paul Frew MLA (Chairperson); William Irwin MLA; Joe Byrne MLA (Deputy Chairperson); Jo-Anne Dobson MLA.


Notes to Editors:

The Committee’s investigation into tree disease examines a number of issues such as: DARD’s roles and responsibilities for monitoring and preventing tree disease; plans for tackling plant and tree disease outbreak in Northern Ireland; and biosecurity at ports and airports.

Following the investigation, the Committee will discuss its thoughts, recommendations and suggestions with the Minister for Agriculture and her Department.

Committee Membership:

Mr Paul Frew – Chairperson
Mr Joe Byrne – Deputy Chairperson
Mr Thomas Buchanan
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mrs Jo-Anne Dobson
Mr Chris Hazzard
Mr William Irwin
Mr Declan McAleer
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Mr Oliver McMullan
Mr Robin Swann

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