Rural Hub
Back

Ash dieback advice for landowners

3 mins

Managing ash dieback has become a pressing problem for an increasing number of landowners who own woodland. Ash dieback is caused by the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. Originally imported on infected plants in 2012, it has become widespread across most of the UK with the East of England and Scotland being worst hit.

Symptoms of ash dieback

Symptoms vary between young and mature crops but include:

  • Leaf wilting
  • Diamond shaped black lesions on the stem/branch
  • Extensive crown dieback (more pronounced in older trees)
  • Staining and discolouration of wood/timber
  • Close association with other fungal pathogens (e.g. honey fungus)
  • Structural degradation over time of branch, stem and roots

Will all ash trees die?

It is not known what will be left of the UK’s ash population, but estimates of 80% mortality are widely accepted. Mortality will vary depending on the age of tree and the level of infection in the surrounding area. There is likely to be some natural resistance but the level of this is currently unknown.

Does ash dieback affect other tree species?

So far, only ash native to the UK and other ornamental varieties are known to be significantly affected.

What are the management implications?

Infected trees along a roadside or in areas where there is public access need to be managed with health and safety as priority. Infected trees lose their structural integrity and so become unstable, which means they need to be monitored carefully and pruned or felled where there is a risk to safety.

Large-scale ash woodlands need a varied management approach, which could involve premature clear fell or heavy thinning. 

Whatever the appropriate course of action there will be cost implications for the landowner.

Is there grant funding to help with managing ash dieback?

There is no funding for the felling and removal of ash.  However, timber revenues can help offset this or even turn a profit.

There is funding for replanting woodland affected by ash dieback through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS).  The Woodland Tree Health Restoration Grant is part of CSS and provides support for restocking woodland after felling due to a tree health issue. Payments are capped at between £1,750 – £3,500/ha depending upon the restock species planted and whether the site is classed as ancient woodland or not.

Where can I get help on managing ash dieback?

The right approach will depend on the age of a woodland, mix of trees, the extent of infection, along with a landowner’s own objectives and whether the wood is being managed for timber production.

The general principle is that with mature stands (over 25 years) it is best to deal with trees on an individual basis as much as possible, removing trees which show more that 50% of the crown is infected or basal lesions.

For young stands of pure ash, there may be an argument to clear fell.

Other points to be considered include whether a felling licence is required or if any trees are subject to a Tree Preservation Order or located in Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The Forestry Commission has produced a useful decision tool diagram (see p9) which helps guide you towards the right course of action..

For larger areas of ash woodland (over 10 acres), John Clegg & Co can provide advice on clear fells. Please contact us and we can provide advice and consultancy services as required.

For advice on dealing with ash dieback in smaller areas of mixed woodland, contact your local Strutt and Parker office.

Oliver Thompson
Associate Director
Central & North West
01844319829
Send a message to Oliver Thompson
3 mins

Related Articles

06.09.2021

Tree Health pilot scheme opens in England

Land managers in England with trees or woodlands affected by some specific pests and diseases may be eligible to take part in a new pilot Tree Health Scheme. The three-year pilot scheme will initially focus on tackling trees and woodland affected by ash dieback, Phytophthora ramorum in larch or sweet chestnut, sweet chestnut blight and […]
13.08.2021

Book tickets for 2021 UK Forest Market Report

Forestry is in the political and media spotlight like never before, but how is this increased awareness of the potential of trees affecting the UK commercial forestry and woodland investment market? The government has an annual UK planting target of 30,000ha of new trees to 2050, with the forestry and woodland sector regarded as having […]
16.06.2021

5 things to know about the England Woodland Creation Offer

The Forestry Commission has unveiled details of the new tree planting grant scheme – the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) – which aims to to encourage more farmers and land managers to plant trees. The grant, backed by almost £16m of funding in its first year, is part of the government’s strategy to treble tree […]
14.06.2021

3 key changes which could drive more tree planting

The UK has a well-publicised target of planting 30,000ha new trees annually to 2050, to take woodland cover across the country from 13% to 17%. It is an enormous challenge – to reach this commitment we will need to see planting at a scale not seen for decades. Woodland expansion has not been achieved at […]

Talk to us

Want to talk to us about our rural specialisms? Send us a message and we will make sure it gets to the right person.

Please write your name
Please write a message

Sign up

Sign up to be notified when we launch new publications so you’re always ahead of the research.

Please write your name
Please write a correct email address
Send me updates about
Please tick a box