Ash dieback at Leigh Woods

Tree felling as a result of ash dieback

We've done our best to control ash dieback in the woods, but unfortunately it is a tricky disease to control.

What is ash dieback?

Ash dieback is caused by a fungus that originated in Asia. It doesn’t affect ash trees native to the region, but has had a devastating effect on European ash, which is found in the UK.

The fungus produces small fruiting bodies between July and October. The spores can blow many miles away, which is what makes it so difficult to control. Once it’s landed, the fungus grows inside the tree and blocks its water systems, causing the tree to die.

What does it look like?

As the name suggests, the disease causes the tree to ‘die back’ – the trees begin to slowly die and drop limbs. It begins with the leaves wilting and falling in the summer. Dark brown spots will then develop where the branches meet the trunk, and eventually, the branches will drop, beginning with the top.

Unfortunately, there is no cure, and while our rangers have done as much as they can to prevent the spread, it is difficult to control, and we’ve made the difficult decision to fell trees which present a danger to visitors.

What does this mean for Leigh Woods?

Trees throughout the woodland are infected, and so the initial tree work will focus on ones nearest the path. Local arborist Sam Harris will be helping us remove these trees, so you may find certain areas of the woods closed when you visit.

The trees we'll be felling in June are mainly around the hill fort, and as trees can damage the delicate archaeology beneath, we are hopeful that there will be some benefit to this sad loss of trees.

In the long term, we’re working to restore the wood pasture in Leigh Woods, and you may already have seen red Devon cattle grazing nearby.

How can I help?

Cross contamination across woodland can speed the spread of ash dieback, and other plant diseases. By cleaning your shoes before and after visiting woodland, don’t take any natural material from the wood home with you, you can help slow the spread of this devastating disease.