Ash Dieback Hits the Quantocks.
You’ve probably noticed that a lot of roadside trees have been felled recently, in the Quantocks and elsewhere, as a result of ash dieback disease. This new disease is devastating ash woods all over the UK.
Generally, the official advice is to leave the dead or dying trees in place; a small proportion seem to have some immunity and the rest will make great standing dead wood habitat. However, trees along roadsides present a particular risk. The chances of a walker in a wood being hit by a falling tree are tiny, but if a tree falls over a road a car can crash into it hours later. Just to make life more complicated, diseased trees often develop a secondary infection of honey fungus which can rot the base of the tree, making them unstable even while they still appear to be struggling on.
Dieback has dramatically worsened since last year, and in response, the LPS had done quite a lot of felling work at Broomfield Common as an early priority. In some parts, there is quite a lot of tree and shrubs of other species remaining, but in the ash dominated areas it does look very bare.
It would be fair to say that the work was not without controversy locally. Tree felling always has a drastic impact on the appearance of a wood, and while replanting with a wider variety of trees will enrich the woodland in the long term the site inevitably looks a mess for a year or two.
However now the roadside ash felling has been done, and you can see into the interior of the wood, it’s obvious how badly the remaining ash across the other 95% of the woodland has been affected. We made some adjustments to the proposed work in response to the concerns raised and now we’re looking forward with the Parish Council to the winter replanting programme.
The LPS will also be supporting replanting in the recently felled roadside areas of Cothelstone Hill, where similar tree safety work has been commissioned by the AONB. Expect lots of opportunities for volunteers to get stuck into tree planting here over the next couple of years!