Ash dieback on the estate at Standen
Ash dieback (sometimes called Chalara or Chalara dieback) is a disease of ash trees caused by a fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. It causes leaf loss, crown dieback and bark lesions in affected trees. Once a tree is infected the disease is usually fatal and weakens the tree to the point where it succumbs more readily to attacks by other pests or pathogens. We don’t yet know what the full impact of the disease will be in Britain but it seems likely to affect 70-95% of our ash trees.
Scientists are working to learn from existing and emerging research and practical experience in combatting the disease in other countries. More detailed information can be found on the Forestry Commission website.
Why do you need to fell affected trees?
Any dying or dead tree can fail as its root or stem start to decay, and trees affected by ash dieback are particularly prone to failing at the base (‘rootheave’) or to dropping limbs from the crown. We therefore need to take action to protect visitors using our sites and the wider public using access routes next to our woods and trees.
Do you need to work on all the ash trees?
We only carry out safety work on trees that could genuinely affect people if they failed. Away from footpaths where we don’t need to act for safety reasons, we will leave ash standing to find out which specimens display tolerance to the disease – these trees will then be able to reproduce. There are a small number of woodland management projects where we are felling ash away from usage zones, but these are designed to improve the ecological condition of ashwoods in light of dieback.
Is there nothing you can do to stop the trees getting the disease?
No, the disease is airborne and there is nothing we can do to prevent its spread or to treat affected trees.
What if one of the trees cut down was one of the small percentage that will be resistant to ash dieback?
There is a chance that we may cut down a tree that would have been tolerant of the disease, however we can’t take the chance where safety is concerned. The work will only entail the removal of ash trees within striking distance of footpaths. All other ash trees will be left throughout our woodlands, to determine naturally whether they display tolerance or to provide important dead wood habitat
" Many native woodland tree species are just waiting for a sunlit gap in the canopy to grow; we hope to see birch, hazel, beech, oak, cherry, alder and many more appear. Opening up the canopy, especially along the tracksides, can also have a positive impact on woodland ground flora, such as bluebells."
Plant a tree
After 18 months like no other, where nature and the changing of the seasons has provided so much comfort, we’re encouraging everyone to help support our Plant a Tree campaign. You can plant a tree for yourself, as a gift to someone special or in memory of a loved one. Whichever you choose, you'll help nature to thrive so that future generations can enjoy spending time in the shade of these beautiful giants. Just £5 will plant one new sapling. Thanks to your support, we’re establishing 20 million new trees across the country by 2030.