Joe Barry: Destruction of our native ash would be catastrophe
WE'RE facing a catastrophe and people don't realise it. The recent arrival in Ireland of Chalara fraxinea, or ash dieback disease, is far more serious than many people know.
Reports have concentrated on the concerns of our hurley makers and threat to the supply of raw material for our national sport. However, should the outbreak become widespread, the loss of our stock of native ash would also affect the landscape, reduce biodiversity and kill off a valuable source of shelter and food for wildlife.
During the past 20 years or so, thousands of farmers planted ash under the government-sponsored afforestation schemes in a drive to increase diversity in Irish woodlands and increase tree cover nationally. This scheme succeeded in raising our tree cover from less than 2pc to the present 12pc.