Worcester’s plan to deal with Ash Dieback

Ash tree

Work is about to begin in Worcester to remove diseased and dangerous trees affected by Ash Dieback.

Ash Dieback leads to leaf loss and dead branches and can cause lesions at the base of the tree, while also making it more prone to secondary infections. Once infection is apparent, few trees survive longer than four years and become increasingly dangerous as the disease progresses.

The disease is UK wide and millions of Ash trees across the country have already been felled. The effect of Ash Dieback upon the UK will be similar to that of Dutch Elm Disease, that saw millions of trees lost in the 1970s.

It is expected that a significant number of Ash trees on City Council land will be lost over the next ten years. Advice from the Forestry Commission and Forest Research Agency is that diseased Ash trees in public spaces should be removed early once infection has been diagnosed, to protect public safety.

Around 5,000 Ash trees on city council land are likely to be affected.

Trees in Worcester showing high levels of resistance to Ash Dieback are being identified and will be protected and preserved. In future, seeds may be collected from these trees and grown to restore Ash trees to the UK.

The diseased trees will be replaced with a variety of different trees to promote tree diversity, focussing mostly on native species, building on a tree planting programme which has seen Worcester City Council already plant hundreds of new tree whips and saplings across city locations.

Tree diversity will help lower the risk of future disease outbreaks having such a severe impact.

The tree felling programme will begin in the next few weeks with a large tree next to the access road to Astwood Cemetery being among the first to go. Several mature Ash trees will also be removed in locations such as Diglis Park and Dines Green. Other trees such as those in Gheluvelt Park are showing clear signs of infection and may also need to be removed.

Cllr Andy Stafford, chair of Worcester City Council's Environment Committee, said: "While it is sad to see the loss of so many trees in the city, it is vital that we deal with the problem of Ash Dieback as swiftly as possible to prevent spread and save as many trees as we can.

"In order to try and minimise the impact of ash dieback then we will need to remove diseased Ash trees, but we are confident that as we continue in our programme of planting new trees, we can ensure that our wooded areas are the best possible habitats for flora and fauna.

"We are committed to improving Worcester's environment and making Worcester greener with initiatives such as our wildflower meadows and the rewilding of grass verges. Our ongoing programme of tree planting and woodland management will help to promote biodiversity and provide habitats for wildlife." 

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