Chalara dieback of ash is a serious disease of ash trees caused by a fungus called Chalara fraxinea (C. fraxinea). The disease causes leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees, and it can lead to tree death. For a guide on identification and all other information relating to the disease please visit the Forestry Commission’s own Pests and diseases page.
How does this affect The Heart of England Forest
The majority of our woodland has less than 10% ash as a component part. The diverse mixture of native tree species we plant provides a resilient woodland that will still be viable with the loss of a single species. Of more concern are the woodlands south of the river Avon where the ash is the dominant species, both in our woodlands and the wider landscape. Here we will have to replace any losses and rethink our species choice for future woodland creation.
We are pleased to say that we have not found any Chalara dieback in our woodlands, but we do have to be vigilant and will continue to monitor. Although there is certain inevitability that it will sweep through the UK we must be pragmatic and accept this and research ways to counter the threat and seek out resilient ash trees to start a new, healthy cohort to re-establish ash in the landscape. The radical mass Elm felling was, in hindsight, not the best way to combat the threat from Dutch Elm Disease this indiscriminately took resistant and diseased trees, so drastically reducing natures fight back and our reservoir of resistant trees. This, thankfully, is not the approach being taken today.
How does this affect you
Currently we do not know of any infected sites near our woodlands in Warwickshire and Worcestershire but for anyone who walks through our woodlands and other woodlands in the area we would recommend the following simple hygiene regime taken from the Forestry Commission’s website
If you are visiting an infected or suspected wood, please take some simple precautions:
- do not remove any plant material (firewood, sticks, leaves or cuttings) from the woodland;
- where possible, before leaving the woodland, clean soil, mud, leaves and other plant material from footwear, clothing, dogs, horses, the wheels and tyres of bicycles, baby buggies, carriages and other vehicles, and remove any leaves which are sticking to your car;
- before visiting other countryside sites, parks, garden centres and nurseries, thoroughly wash footwear, wheels and tyres in soapy water;
- follow the instructions on any signs.
If you do notice any signs of Ash dieback in our woodlands please contact us and tell us exactly where it was spotted.