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Ash to ashes

The safety risks around Ash trees afflicted by disease are finally being highlighted.

In recent weeks, Senator Victor Boyhan has raised the potential for loss of life from falling trees and boughs as a result of thousands of roadside trees dying from the Ash dieback disease that is now widespread across the country. The initial furore over the disease related mainly to the financial impact on ash plantations that are decimated by the virus. Now that the disease has spread across the mature-tree population, there is an increasing realisation that the safety of motorists, cyclists and walkers on our roads is under serious threat. The recent Storm Betty only highlighted the fragility of many ash trees with branches scattered around rural roads across the country. In addition, as confirmed in our feature on broadband roll out in this issue (see pages 23-24), there are additional impacts on rural infrastructure, including electricity, telephone cables and the still-in-development broadband infrastructure. As we have written previously, we need a coordinated approach towards managing the long-term impacts of Ash dieback, especially in relation to the hundreds of thousands of ash trees lining our rural roadways.