Ash dieback advice issued as infected trees felled in the South East

The Forestry Commission has issued practical advice to anybody with a responsibility for the management of ash in woodlands, at a time when thousands of infected trees are to be felled in our region.

It comes as trees are being felled at disease-affected sites in Surrey. Thousands of infected ash trees are to be removed from this month, with works scheduled in phases over a number of years.

In an operations note, the Forestry Commission has said: “The concentration of effort should now be on managing woodland with the disease. Therefore we strongly recommend that all owners of woodland containing ash prepare or amend management plans to describe how this species will be managed, including giving due consideration to which alternative tree species might be used for restocking where required.

“Currently there is no known efficient prevention or curative treatment (e.g. silvicultural or chemical approach) that will alleviate or mitigate the effects of ash dieback. However several studies have reported that a low proportion of trees (1-5% of the population) may possess a partial but heritable tolerance to H. fraxineus.

Therefore, forestry practices can play a key role in conservation strategies by retaining trees with exceptionally low damage levels from which tolerant regeneration may result. In severely damaged stands the retention of these tolerant ash trees may, however, not be beneficial for future stand development due to numbers being too low for successful regeneration, or justified from an economic perspective.

“Nevertheless, it is still recommended that the best trees are retained (i.e. those with minimal crown damage and no root collar lesions) to facilitate possible long-term adaptation of ash populations to H. fraxineus through potentially tolerant genotypes.”

It has also issued advice on areas including managing health and safety risks, timber production, regeneration and planting alternative species.

For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tree-pests-and-diseases