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Tree awareness – Ash dieback

Trees are vital, tree awareness too. They help combat climate change by capturing and storing carbon. They act to reduce the impact of flooding and soil erosion. They provide income and support jobs through timber production and tourism. They are vital to wildlife by providing a home and food for birds, insects and mammals.

In short, trees are good for our wealth, health and happiness, both now and in the future.

However, our urban, woodland, forest and hedgerow trees are under unprecedented threat. The number of pests and diseases attacking them has increased in the last few years. Why has this happened? Two factors are thought to be important:

  1. The increased trade in plants from around the world increases the risk of new pests and diseases entering the country.
  2. Once here, insects may be able to survive our warmer winters and diseases may spread faster in heavier summer rainfall.


Key Facts

Charlara fraxinea -ash dieback is a fungal disease of ash trees that has swept across Europe in the last two decades causing widespread damage and is now affecting our native Ash population and since the first reported case in 2012 there are now nearly 1000 confirmed sites in the UK.

Whilst the disease has infected many species of ash, our Common Ash is the most severely affected. This fungal pathogen is highly destructive, particularly to young ashes, which succumb to the disease rapidly and are likely to be killed in one growing season.

Ash trees become infected via spores from the fruiting bodies on leaf litter (fallen leaves and shoot material) from already infected trees. However, larger trees are likely to require a high dose of spores to become infected. Infection primarily starts in the leaves, detectable within two months of infection, in older trees the infection is noted to lead to dieback and stem lesions in the next growing season. Then, particularly in the natural environment, secondary opportunistic pathogens, such as honey fungus, take advantage of the vulnerable trees, which can ultimately lead to their death. For more information please visit Forestry website.

What action should you take?

  • The disease is notifiable and must be reported to the forestry commission. You do not need to take further action if you own infected trees unless you are served with a statutory plant health notice requiring action.
  • Good practice. You can help slow the spread of the disease from infected areas by cleaning and disinfecting tools between site visits, burning, burying or composting fallen ash leaves and ensuring wood is not contaminated with leaf material before removing it.
  • Seek professional advise – you may need to have the tree monitored because they may need to be pruned or felled if they, or their branches, could fall and cause injury or damage.

For further advise and information, please call J F Tree Specialist on 01206 231720 or email on info@jftreespecialist.com today.

By John Fryer – J F Tree Specialist Ltd.

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