With around 80% of England’s ash trees now at risk, costing an estimated $15 billion to the economy, it is important to identify and manage ash dieback disease quickly.
Over the past few years, ash dieback disease (hymenoscyphus fraxineus) has been reported widely across Devon and is now present in almost 75% of the country.
If you become aware of the symptoms in your ash trees, you must act quickly to help protect the public and slow the spread. This includes reporting outbreaks in new areas and bringing in specialists like Arborcure to assess and manage the situation.
What is ash dieback disease?
Ash dieback disease, sometimes referred to as chalara dieback of ash, is a fungus of east Asian origin which has been present in the UK since at least 2012.
With no natural defences to this pest, European ash trees, including the common ash (fraxinus excelsior) can quickly become infected. There is no cure for the disease and young and coppiced trees often die very quickly.
Older ash trees can struggle on for many years before eventually becoming too weak to survive.
Ash trees are incredibly versatile and contribute to the biodiversity of their local environment. They are also prized by the hardwood industry. Stopping the spread of ash dieback is critical to protect both the environment and the wider economy.
Spotting the signs of ash dieback
The major symptoms of ash dieback disease are:
- Blackened, wilting leaves
- Leaves which shed early
- Dark brown, diamond-shaped lesions (damage spots) on stems and branches
- Brown-grey discolouration of inner bark
- Regrowth of dormant buds below the damaged area (epicormic growth)
Will my ash trees need to be felled?
Every case of the disease is different. This is why we highly recommend you contact Arborcure urgently so that we can inspect your trees and suggest further action.
Older ash trees will normally need to be felled as they will produce many spores and will have lost their economic value. They may also present a danger to the public, particularly if they have been weakened by pests such as the honey fungus (Armillaria).
Depending on the extent of the infection, it may sometimes be possible to spare younger trees through careful management of plantations. The only way to be sure is to contact tree specialists such as Arborcure.
The government have produced an interactive map showing areas of infection. Ash dieback in a previously uninfected area is notifiable which means it must be reported to the Forestry Commission or Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA). The government have created an online Tree Alert tool which can be used for this purpose.
Ground maintenance and slowing the spread
Ash dieback disease spores overwinter in leaf litter. Therefore, an important part of battling the spread of the disease is keeping on top of ground maintenance in infected areas.
This includes burning, burying or deep composting dead ash leaves. Arborcure can help you to do your bit in preventing the spread of the disease, with our high quality ground maintenance services.
Ash dieback and tree planting projects
One of the reasons behind the spread of ash dieback in the UK is the unintended import of the fungus from Europe via ash saplings. This highlights the importance of professional advice and careful sourcing when planting new trees.
If you are involved in a commercial tree planting project, contact Arborcure for specialist advice and services.
Ash dieback is a serious threat to public safety and the environment. Have you spotted signs of the disease on your land? Get in touch with Arborcure today for professional advice.