Importing of sweet chestnut trees to be banned from this autumn

Owen Paterson - image:HW
Owen Paterson - image:HW

The government is to ban imports of sweet chestnut trees from areas affected by sweet chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica).

Environment secretary Owen Paterson said at last week's CLA (Country Land & Business Association) Game Fair: "I'm taking action to protect our sweet chestnut trees by bringing in rules to ban the import of trees from areas in Europe where they have sweet chestnut blight ahead of the planting season.

"Tree health is one of my top priorities and I’m determined to act swiftly to protect our woodland and the thriving economy that relies on it."

While welcoming the announcement, CLA President Harry Cotterell said: "It is important for Britain to retain its protected zone status for as many trees as possible. The use of protected zone status must be the standard practice and not an emergency measure."

Cryphonectria is a fungus originating in Japan which devastated North America's native sweet chestnut trees in the first half of the 20th century. It has more recently become prevalent in Southern Europe.

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