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Ash dieback in north and west Somerset

A tree in summer with two main branches. One has bright green leaves and the other has no leaves whatsoever and is just bare branches.
Tree displaying signs of ash dieback | © National Trust Images/Laurence Perry | © National Trust Images/Laurence Perry

Ash dieback is a devastating disease threatening veteran trees and woodlands across the UK.

What we're doing to tackle ash dieback disease in north and west Somerset.

The ash tree is a native British species of tree, providing around five per cent of all woodland cover in the UK.

There are an estimated 80 million ash trees in the UK, helping to shape some of our best loved landscapes. We manage 25,000 hectares (61,776 acres) of woodland and 135 landscape sites and deer parks which include thousands of veteran ash trees and several hundred ancient ash trees over 300 years old.

Chalara dieback of ash is a disease of ash trees caused by a fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. Once a tree is infected in most of the cases, the tree’s health will decline and often succumb to secondary fungal infection.

As ash trees succumb to the disease and slowly die, they can drop limbs and branches, collapse or fall.

Fyne Court and the Quantock Hills

We identified over 200 trees across the Fyne Court estate that posed a risk to visitor safety and needed felling.

We took the decision to only fell affected ash trees that are in high risk zones including along public highways, rights of way, well used paths, permissive routes and near residential areas and car parks.

After a prolonged period of closure, Five Pond Wood has now re-opened to visitors.

The countryside team will be managing the woodland regeneration post-felling through a combination of natural regeneration and planting of native broadleaf trees and shrubs to enhance its benefit for wildlife and people. The team will also seek to retain and enhance wildlife features where safe including standing and fallen deadwood. We have used this opportunity to review and upgrade the path network within the woodland.

Ash tree on Exmoor
Ash tree on Exmoor | © National Trust Images/Seth Jackson

Holnicote Estate

Ash dieback is widespread across the estate meaning our team of rangers have had to close or re-route several footpaths to ensure the safety of our visitors. Click on the locations below to see maps of the affected areas.

Path closures on the Holnicote estate

Eastwater path closure

Great Wood path closure

Horner Mill path closure

Horridge Wood path closure

Rey Combe and Yealse Combe path closure

Mendip Hills

This year in the Mendip Hills felling works will be taking place at King's Wood and Ebbor Gorge. King's Wood will be closed until October 2023 where we have identified 200 trees infected with ash dieback. King's Wood hosts many ash trees with veteran features, essential habitat for wildlife, so we are taking great care here to retain as much habitat whilst managing public safety.

King's Wood path closures

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A tree in summer with two main branches. One has bright green leaves and the other has no leaves whatsoever and is just bare branches.

Restoring woodlands affected by ash dieback 

Ash dieback is a fungal disease affecting the country’s native ash trees. As many as four out of five ash trees may be affected and, where the dying trees could cause a threat to human safety, we need to remove them.