The Horticultural Trades Asssociation (HTA) has welcomed a government consultation on a proposed ban on the import of sweet chestnut trees into Britain in a bid to prevent a repeat of the ash dieback outbreak.
The HTA called for the ban last month.
Defra secretary of state Owen Paterson made the call for a ban at the "Stop the Spread" garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, a garden commissioned by FERA and supported by Government and trade bodies such as the HTA.
There will be a six-week consultation on the total ban on imports of sweet chestnut trees before the next planting season.
Chestnut blight, caused by the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica has already affected two sites in the UK. So far, 180 trees have been destroyed on sites in Warwickshire and Essex, following the importation of infected trees from France in 2011.
HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe said: "With the potential increase in the planting of sweet chestnut as an alternative to ash, this could present an unnecessary risk to UK woodland already under stress from chalara. We therefore support the proposed ban, and will continue to work with Defra to control the outbreak of pests and diseases in the UK."