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Plan for tree surveillance scheme
1:10pm Wednesday 9th January 2013 in News
A NEW Europe-wide tree surveillance scheme could be launched following campaigning by one of the county’s Euro MPs. Liberal Democrat Catherine Bearder, who is one of the representatives for South East England in Brussels, wrote to the European Commission after 100,000 trees were destroyed in the UK. The trees were cut down to stop the spread of Ash Dieback disease – which threatens to wipe out the Ash population. The fungus has been found at 130 sites across the country, including Hampshire’s neighbours Berkshire and Sussex A major survey by the Forestry Commission of all the trees in the New Forest has so far not detected the fungus. Hampshire County Council has also been regularly monitoring sites – including the 25 Ash trees at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Ampfield. Mrs Bearder called for the commission to bring in a new alert system across the continent, so that prevention measures could be triggered when outbreaks occur. The commission said: “The commission is considering to propose an EU-wide annual surveillance regime in all member states for all regulated harmful organisms and harmful organisms which are found for the first time in an area of the EU.” Mrs Bearder said that a Europe-wide approach was needed to tackle the disease. She added: “Protecting biodiversity is of paramount importance. We must do all we can to protect our trees and woodland, which are also home to a wide range of species. “It is not something our environment can afford to lose and future diseases must be nipped in the bud before they can spread. “I am glad the commission is looking to improve its monitoring procedures. “I firmly believe the European Union is best placed to share information and to make sure the continent’s biodiversity is protected.”