Many of you will know there is a serious disease spreading through our ash tree population at present, unfortunately it is killing very large numbers of ash trees across the whole country and Blashford is not immune. Ash die-back can kill whole trees or parts of trees very quickly and, in the case of ash, the dead branches become brittle and prone to falling very quickly, meaning that trees identified as dying when they should have come into leaf in May cannot be left standing until the following winter, at least in high risk locations.
One such location is near the access to the Goosander and Lapwing Hide path where five ash trees have been identified as dying. This is a heavily used area and so these cannot wait until autumn to be made safe. They have been surveyed for nesting birds and bat roosts and we are satisfied that these are not present so felling is planned for the middle of this week. In addition two further at risk trees on the path toward Ivy North Hide are also to be felled as they risk falling onto the path.
The works will mean there will be some restrictions on access to some parts of the reserve at times on Wednesday and Thursday, if you are visiting please obey the signage, some of these are large trees and they will be felled onto the path, so the hazard is very real. If possible avoid visiting on these days if you wish to go around the whole reserve.
Felling is a last resort on the reserve and wherever possible we aim to retain standing deadwood as a habitat resource, but there are locations where this is not possible
Sadly almost all trees we are losing in this case are dying as a result of pathogens which arrived in Europe as a result of the international trade in trees. It seems likely that ash die-back originated in the Far East and the fungus that attacks alder trees may have arisen when two related fungus species came into contact and hybridised, possibly as a result of the international trade in trees and timber some of which will inevitably have travelled with their fungi.