Stornoway Trust Nursery – Safeguarding our Ash Population for the Future

Amongst the Tree varieties we are planting up in the Stornoway Trust Nursery at the moment, one particularly interesting prospect for the future is ASH, (Fraxinus Excelior).

Picture from the Woodland Trust

At present there is a ban on transporting Ash due to Chalara Ash Die Back Disease, widely reported in Europe and in more than 150 locations on mainland Scotland and England.

This is a disease that was first identified on the UK mainland in 2012.  It is a fungal disease that attacks ash trees and once infected it is 100% fatal to the tree.  It has been estimated that at present 80% of ash trees in Britain have been lost to the infection and predictions are that eventually 95-99% will be lost.

Leaves are normally only infected by the airborne spores of
the fungus. Spores are produced on fallen ash leaves and
shoots in the litter layer usually between June and September
in the year after infection. The spores appear to be able to
disperse over tens of kilometres. Over longer distances the risk
of spread is likely to be via the movement of diseased ash
plants. Movement of logs from infected trees may also be a
pathway for spread although the risk of this is considered low

- Source the Woodland Trust

As far as we are aware Ash Dieback has not affected the Isle of Lewis, protected as we are by the expanse of the Minch.  This opens up the possibility that when the ban on the movement of Ash is eventually lifted, The Stornoway Trust Nursery may be in a position to be a much-needed supply of disease free plants for re stocking mainland areas from our locally propagated source.

It  would be an excellent opportunity to use our unique geographical location to help in the conservation of this important tree species.