NEW guidance aimed at helping homeowners and land managers deal with the impact of ash dieback disease on trees on their land has been launched.

The guide, published the Tree Council, DEFRA and the Forestry Commission, provides simple steps to:

  • Help identify ash trees on private land
  • Assess their condition on a simple scale of 1–4
  • Consider tree management options if ash dieback disease is suspected

Anyone with a tree on their land has a legal responsibility to ensure that risk posed by the tree is kept within appropriate limits, particularly if they are next to a busy road, public pathway or community grounds.

The new guidance is intended to help homeowners and land managers who have ash trees on their land understand their options for managing affected ash trees, while at the same time minimising the ecological impact caused by the disease.

Sarah Lom, CEO of the Tree Council, commented: “Ash trees are a treasured presence in our urban and rural landscapes, including amongst our hedgerows. But sadly, due to ash dieback disease, some may now present a risk. It is vital that people who own gardens or manage land containing ash trees not only understand their responsibilities, but also how they can help give ash the best chance of survival for the future.

“This guidance helps them assess the safety risks and encourages owners to keep the trees in the landscape when it is safe to do so, where they can continue to provide ecological benefits.”

Nicola Spence, DEFRA's chief plant health officer, said: “This year we are celebrating the International Year of Plant Health, an opportunity to recognise the importance of healthy plants and the role we can all play to safeguard our natural environment. I urge those who have ash trees in their gardens or on their land to familiarise themselves with the Tree Council’s guidance on dealing with the impact of ash dieback.

“Ash dieback is a damaging disease to our native ash trees as well as our timber industry which is why since 2012 the Government has invested more than £6 million into ash dieback research and £4.5 million to strengthen biosecurity at the border.”

The guidance describes how tree owners can help the next generation of ash trees survive, through retaining trees where it is safe to do so. If felling is necessary, then trunks/branches can be left as deadwood to continue offering benefits as a wildlife habitat.

The guidance is available here.

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