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Pledge to keep closer check on tree diseases

A new Europe-wide surveillance regime is being considered to prevent spread of diseases such as Ash Tree Dieback, the European Commission has said.

key_greenenvironment.pngCatherine Bearder, an MEP for South East England, wrote to the commission after 100,000 trees were destroyed in the UK to stop the spread of the Chalara fraxinea fungus.

A string of EU countries were also hit by the disease and Catherine asked if a new alert system could be introduced to trigger action when outbreaks occurred.

She said: "Protecting biodiversity is of paramount importance. We must do all we can to protect our trees and woodland, which are also home to a wide range of species.

"It is not something our environment can afford to lose and future diseases must be nipped in the bud before they can spread."

The commission told Catherine the EU plant health regime was responsible for monitoring flora and fauna across member states, but only checked on a limited number of "regulated harmful organisms".

However, it said in an official response: "The commission is considering to propose an EU wide annual surveillance regime in all member states for all regulated harmful organisms and harmful organisms which are found for the first time in an area of the EU."

Catherine added: "I am glad the commission is looking to improve its monitoring procedures. I firmly believe the European Union is best placed to share information and to make sure the continent's biodiversity is protected."

Catherine called for action after Ash Tree Dieback outbreak in November.

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