Restoring woodlands affected by ash dieback

A canopy of trees at One Tree Hill

Ash dieback is a devastating disease threatening the veteran trees and woodlands in our care.

A spell of dry weather and challenges posed by the pandemic means we've seen the worst effects of ash dieback this year, and we need your help to replace lost trees.

Historic trees and beautiful woodland, which inspired the likes of writer Beatrix Potter and landscape painter John Constable, face extinction due to a surge in ash dieback, driven in part by the climate crisis. Spring was one of the warmest and driest on record. This has put a huge amount of stress on trees, leaving them more susceptible to disease. 

During lockdown our teams of rangers couldn't carry out the felling and maintenance work required to ensure the safety of the trees. Now we're having to play catch up in terms of tree felling.

The eventual loss of the native ash tree will have a devastating impact on wildlife and biodiversity. We're calling for the issue to be written into the government’s recently published England Tree Strategy, which sets out national commitments around tree planting and woodland creation. 

Tree felling as a result of ash dieback

What is ash dieback?

Ash dieback, caused by a fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, originated in Asia and spread to Europe via the global plant trade. With its windborne spores, the fungus spreads quickly, causing leaf loss, bark lesions and dieback in the crown of the tree, where the branches emerge from the trunk.

" Ash trees like those at Beatrix Potter’s Troutbeck Park Farm are some of our most culturally significant trees and have stood for hundreds of years but will now be lost for ever. "
- Luke Barley, national tree and woodland advisor, National Trust
Working to save precious woodland
Ash dieback on a mature tree

The Cotswolds

Ash dieback hit the Cotswolds particularly badly this year and we predict that around 7,000 trees will need felling in the next year alone. Some areas will be left to naturally regenerate and others will be replanted with native broadleaves.

A healthy tree

Yorkshire Dales

Like in many other limestone and chalk landscapes, ash is the dominant tree species in the Yorkshire Dales, especially on the limestone pavement at Malham Cove. Sadly many of the trees will probably be lost to ash dieback. We're working to recreate woodland that supports nature and adds to the beauty of the area.

Dovedale valley in the Peak District

Derbyshire Dales and White Peak

The ‘ravine woods’ of White Peak are largely made up of ash trees, which support some of the richest woodland flora in the UK. At least 600 trees will need felling. Our work to reintroduce missing native species such as alder, oak and lime will help protect the woodland ecosystem.

Stunning sky and the light on the fells at Thorneythwaite

Lake District

Borrowdale and Watendlath in the Lake District are home to many veteran ash pollards, some of which are between 500 and 700 years old. Norse settlers cut the trees to keep them out of reach of grazing livestock and to create firewood. Our foresters maintain this rural tradition but the landscape as it exists today is likely to be lost forever.

We need your support 

Sadly we're having to fell a record number of trees because of the devastating impact that ash dieback has on the woodlands we love to escape to. We're expecting to remove 40,000 trees this year at a cost of more than £2 million. 

Between 75 and 95 per cent of all ash trees will be lost in the next 20 or 30 years. We need your help to replace lost trees and restore woodlands for future generations to enjoy. 

The native ash tree

Help us restore woodland 

This year, nature has been a huge source of comfort for many but now it needs our help. Everyone needs nature, so donate to our appeal to help us protect it for future generations.