Thousands of ash trees at risk from new disease in Islington

Thousands of trees could perish as victims of a deadly fungus currently sweeping the nation

Almost 3,500 trees in Islington could fall foul of ash dieback disease, which has already claimed more than 100,000 infected specimens in the UK and many more across Europe.

The borough’s opposition Lib Dem group have called on the Town Hall to take urgent action before it’s too late.

During the past few weeks, ash trees across the UK have been plagued by Chalara Fraxinea – or ash dieback – and the fungus is said to have reached the area around London.

The Lib Dems want Islington Council to make a plan of action, including training officers to spot the disease and calling a tree summit to help residents notice tell-tale signs of infection.

However, the council insisted it was already taking action.

Cllr Terry Stacy, Lib Dem leader, said: “In an inner-city borough like Islington, trees are vital because we have so few open spaces.

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“The council needs to be talking urgently to residents, tree volunteers and the community about how to spot the disease. “There’s no way we can afford to lose 3,500 ash trees in Islington. Once a tree is infected it is lost forever.”

Cllr Paul Smith, Islington Council’s executive member for environment, said: “All Islington tree officers have been trained to identify the disease.”

“Ash dieback is much easier to identify when trees are in leaf and we will be training our resident tree wardens in the spring to help with this.”

The government recently announced a ban on the import of ash trees. Anyone who thinks they have spotted an infected tree can call the Forestry Commission on 08459 33 55 77.