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Tree felling may be required to stop Chalara threat to ash trees

Landowners with mature ash trees on their property may want to consider tree felling as a means of controlling the spread of Chalara, which has passed into the wider environment in counties in the south-east already.

In the north-west, Chalara has been detected only in recently planted trees; however, that makes it even more important to take swift action in any incident where it is found to have spread to a mature tree.

Defra’s 2014 Tree Health Management Plan, published in April 2014, gives several options on dealing with mature ash trees suspected to be infected with Chalara – and it may be up to the landowner to decide.

With respect to tree felling, Defra advises: “There may be particular circumstances where landowners and woodlands managers should consider replacing older, more mature ash trees once they have succumbed to disease with alternative species.”

This might be where there is a legitimate health and safety risk arising from infection, or where “isolated outlying areas of infection in the wider environment” are detected.

Defra stresses that it is impossible to predict how long an infected tree may survive – and some on the continent have lasted for many years with the disease.

As such, it could be unlikely that widespread woodland clearance will be necessary in the north-west, but landowners should still be vigilant for any signs of an outbreak of Chalara among their ash trees.