Ash dieback tree felling programme
The forestry work to remove the diseased ash trees began in January 2020 and stopped in the spring to allow the woodland a chance to recover before completing the work in the autumn. The woodland has many other surviving species including oak, cherry, beech & birch and a healthy hazel canopy. This has created more open glades into which there is much regeneration. An extensive program of replanting is now well underway with many new species helping to create a more diverse and resilient woodland for the future.
The opening up of the woodland has dramatically increased the biodiversity and we have seen much more wildlife like rabbits and mice providing great hunting for many birds of prey such as sparrow hawks and buzzards. The remaining tall oaks along the boundary have also provided a perfect habit for our resident tawny owls. A new woodland is emerging.
The photos below were taken immediately after completion of forestry work in October 2020, and before any regeneration had started
What is Ash Dieback?
Ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus ) was first reported in UK in 2012. It is a fast spreading fungus which originated in eastern Asia. The disease affects the tree’s vascular system and the pathogen causes necrosis in the sapwood, which in turn affects the tree’s ability to draw nutrients into its upper branches. It is now present all across UK, and it is expected that the majority of ash trees in woodlands will decline and die over the next 10–15 years.
Our woodland is designated as Ancient Semi Natural Woodland, and is largely an overgrown ash and hazel coppice. The timber was historically harvested to fuel the old iron pits in the woodland. It had been neglected for many years until 2010 when we cleared the fallen timber from the ‘87 storm.
In 2010 we decided not to coppice the ash, but to manage and preserve it. We have monitored the progression of ash die back since its arrival to UK in 2012, but in October 2019 the woodland officer confirmed that our ash trees were infected with the disease, and that we should implement a plan for their removal.
The woodland comprises of many species including ash, oak, beech, maple, alder, poplar, crab apple and cherry. The lower canopy is made up of coppiced hazel, yew and holly. There is a diverse ground flora which includes honeysuckle, wood spurge, wild garlic, primroses, bluebells, yellow pimpernell and early orchids.
The woodland is also teeming with plenty of wildlife such as bats, badgers, owls, rabbits, woodpeckers, deer, newts, frogs and a heron!