AN MSP has backed calls for a new biosecurity strategy to protect native tree populations from pest and disease outbreaks. 

Graham Simpson believes the Woodland Trust's demands for "a robust plan to keep our trees healthy" is vital as he cited fears over the growing ash dieback crisis, which is affecting trees across the country. 

Describing the need for the UK-wide strategy as "so important", Mr Simpson, a Central Scotland MSP, says as many as "80 per cent" of ash trees could be lost due to the disease, calling it "devastating for biodiversity". 

READ MORE: Simon Bowes examines the ongoing crisis of ash dieback in the UK

Mr Simpson, who is also a member of the Woodland Trust, said: “Almost a thousand species use ash, including birds, mammals, insects, fungi, mosses and lichens use ash, with 45 only found on ash.

“As a proud member of the Woodland Trust, I will champion all trees but ash is specifically at risk. It has been spreading over the last decade and that is why this consultation on a new Britain-wide biosecurity strategy is so important.

“We must protect our native species and we need to work across the mainland to do that." 

The Woodland Trust - which has launched a public consultation on the proposals - has argued "without action, entire tree populations could be decimated" by pests and disease. 

In a call to the government ministers ahead of the completion of the Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain, charity bosses say it should "identify high risk host plants" and offer support to tree nurseries to reduce the reliance on "risky imports". 

Mr Simpson added: “The Woodland Trust’s consultation closes on November 30 and I encourage anyone who cares about our woods to respond.”

The Plant Biosecurity Strategy is due to be published in spring of 2022. 

To complete the charity's consultation, visit here