DEAR SIR: We are all familiar with the story of ash dieback in young plantations.

We read about the difficulties encountered by farmers obtaining a suitable replanting scheme.

However, are people aware that this disease is now rampant in the natural landscape right throughout the country?

Many of the juvenile and mature common ash growing in the natural hedges have already become badly infected.

Their limbs and boughs are leaning over electricity lines, busy roads, farm buildings and occupied houses. Most of these need to be completely removed to ensure some level of safety. In many of these cases ivy is the only thing holding these trees together. Common ash probably accounts for up to 50% of the large trees in most of the hedges in Ireland. Some experts suggest we will probably lose most or all of the common ash growing here. Surely it is time that Coillte, Teagasc, the farming organisations and the Department of Agriculture and others with relevant input into this problem get together to look at a suitable replacement programme.