Thursday, 3 April 2014

Kent’s tree experts lead on new guidance for Ash dieback

Britain’s trees are under unprecedented threat from new pests and diseases, including Chalara dieback of ash, a serious disease caused by the Chalara fraxinea fungus. 

Kent is among the first areas of England to be badly affected by Chalara Ash dieback. Since 2012 woodland managers have witnessed a well-established infection in East Kent and have subsequently found more infection further west. 

Today, natural regeneration in heavily infected woodlands is highly compromised and mature ash trees are showing susceptibility to secondary infection.

Ash is the most common tree in Kent (almost a fifth of all trees).  This, combined with the observed rate of spread and the high level of infection already present, make eradication of Chalara impossible.

The Kent Downs AONB Unit has worked closely with partners in the Arboriculture Association, Forestry Commission and Kent County Council to produce a guide which offers practical advice for local councils, highway authorities, private tree and woodland owners, and contractors in Kent. 

The main aim was to provide practical advice that might help slow the spread of Ash dieback, particularly from woods in high infection areas in the east of Kent to other locations in the west of Kent, and beyond, where infection rates are currently low.  

Other objectives were to provide advice that minimise impacts on biodiversity, protects economic return from timber production and safeguards the public.

The guide provides a general overview of the disease and its current status before providing specific guidance for woodland managers and those managing tress in urban and sub-urban environments.  

It includes summary advice on how to manage infected ash trees in conservation areas and development sites, trees with preservation orders and ancient, veteran and heritage trees.  The guide also considers ash trees adjacent to highways, public open spaces and private property.

The guide was co-written by Jonathan Harding from the Forestry Commission, Dan Docker from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Mike Sankus from the Arboriculture Association and Tony Harwood from Kent County Council. 

The project was managed by the Kent Downs AONB Unit as part of the ADAFOR Interreg project, a cross-border forestry initiative that seeks to integrate knowledge and expertise to facilitate enhanced forest management and adaptation.

The guide is available to download for free our Google Docs folder.

For more information please contact:

Matthew Morris (Woodfuel Development Manager)
01303 815 171

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