EXPERTS are looking into reports ash dieback has been spotted at a Rayleigh park.
Phillippa and Robert Williams were strolling around King George playing field when they noticed an ash tree had black, shrivelled up leaves.
The couple, from Shoebury, had seen reports on the television of what the disease looks like and say it looked very similar.
Mrs Williams, 55, said: “It was between the field and the car park, right on the border. There is a covered area where youngsters sit and as my husband can only walk a little way before he has to sit down we sat there. He looked up and we noticed it.
“It is quite an established tree.”
Rayleigh Town Council look after King George playing field and say they are carrying out a survey of all trees around the park.
Kerry Cumberland, town clerk, said: “We had our groundsman down and he has said as far as he can see they have not got the disease but we are waiting foor confirmation from our arboriculturalist.
“We will await the results and take action as necessary.”
The first reports of the ash dieback disease have been confirmed in Essex and Essex County Council says its expert arboriculturists are following advice from Defra and the Forestry Commission, while inspecting ash trees.
An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “We have received a number of calls so far all of which have been passed on to the Forestry Commission. If any trees on county council sites are found to have the disease we will follow the guidance issued.”
The county council is urging everyone that works closely with trees, including those in woodlands, country parks, highways and schools, to be extra vigilant.
Anyone that thinks they have seen a case of the disease should call Fera on 01904 465625, the Forestry Commission on 0131 314 6414 or if it is on a public tree in a school, near a road or a park, then contact Essex County Council’s tree team email email@example.com
More information, guidance and updates can be found at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara or http://www.defra.gov.uk.
Precautions to stop the spread of Chalara fraxinea:
- Do not remove any plant material (firewood, sticks, leaves or cuttings)
- Where possible, before leaving the area , clean soil, mud, leaves and other plant material from footwear, clothing, dogs, horses, the wheels and tyres of bicycles, baby buggies, carriages and other vehicles, and remove any leaves which are sticking to your car
- Before visiting other countryside sites, parks, garden centres and nurseries, thoroughly wash footwear, wheels and tyres in soapy water
Latest Government scientist’s understanding of the disease:
- The spores are unlikely to survive for more than a few days
- Spore dispersal on the wind is possible from mainland Europe
- Trees need a high dose of spores to become infected
- The spores are produced from infected dead leaves during the months of June to September
- Low probability of dispersal on clothing or animals and birds
- Disease will attack any species of ash
- The disease becomes obvious in trees within months rather than years
- Wood products would not spread the disease if treated properly
- Once infected, trees can’t be cured
- Not all trees die of the infection, and some are likely to have genetic resistance.