Ash Dieback has been reported for three sites in the National Forest. The disease has been found on trees that are five years old as well as on older specimens of around seventeen years. The National Forest Company is managing this on advice from the Forestry Commission. While it is likely that the disease will have spread to other parts of the National Forest the Forestry Commission has recommended that no direct action is taken as spores will continue to spread even if trees are felled. Infected sites will instead be monitored to identify any symptom-free trees that may prove resistant.
Catherine Graham-Harrison, Chair of the National Forest Company said:
“Ash is a significant tree in the Forest, probably around 15-20% of all the trees we have, but in The National Forest we have always planted mixed species woodlands which make them more resilient when diseases like this affect one species …. We are only half-way through the forest’s creation. Whilst the loss of some of its ash trees will be a big blow, we still have the opportunity to add many more new woodlands to the landscape with other species in the future.”
Tree and Woodland MD Andrew Bowman-Shaw is a strong advocate of planting mixed woodland to support greater sustainability and believes we will see a move away from single species planting as we learn from threats such as Chalara Fraxinea. In the meantime, Tree and Woodland have removed plantings of young Ash stock and replaced these with other species.