Ashdieback Leaves

Ash Dieback in the UK

Posted on November 23, 2016

We are devastated by the introduction of Ash Dieback into the UK; the impact could result in the loss of one of our most glorious species of trees.

To help contain the disease and stop it spreading to more ash trees and creating further devastation, we know that knowledge and early intervention are crucial.

Understanding what Ash Dieback is, how to identify it, and what to do if you find it, are the keys to helping to contain this disease.

What is Ash Dieback?

Ash Dieback or Hymenoscyphus Fraxineus is a disease which affects ash trees. It was first identified in the UK in 2012 in a Buckinghamshire nursery and has since been observed all over the United Kingdom. It is thought to have spread from continental Europe through the introduction of infected trees.

The effects of the disease within continental Europe have been devastating, with widespread damage to the populations of ash trees throughout the mainland. Younger ash trees are far more susceptible to the disease, and although older trees are still at risk it has been found that they take longer to succumb to the disease because they are more firmly established.

Primarily spread by the wind, the spores from infected trees can be blown huge distances, infecting many more ash trees in the process. In addition to this the disease can also be spread via the movement and displacement of an infected tree or trees for example through re-planting or logging.

It is essential that you report any sightings of Ash Dieback as soon as possible after identification. This is because the disease must be quarantined to prevent further infestation and spread.

Things to look out for when identifying Ash Dieback: 

  • Wilting leaves with black or brown discolouration
  • Small lesions on the bark and underneath the bark lesions the wood will have turned a brownish-grey colour.
  • In late summer and early autumn tiny fungi will be found on the leaf stalks in damp areas

Who to Contact if you believe you have identified Ash Dieback:

Food and Environment Research Agency on 01904 465625 

or the Forestry Commission on 0131 314 6414.

For more information and pictures of Ash Dieback we recommend visiting the Forestry Commission's Website.

Further Information from The Arboricultural Association:

A unique project is hoping to stem the tide of the ash dieback disease by encouraging people to help in finding the solution. Although millions of trees are at risk from the disease, the Living Ash Project, one of several research projects into ash’s resilience to dieback, is aiming to find tolerant native ash trees from which to breed the next generation of healthy trees.

The Living Ash Project is a consortium of specialists including environmental charities Earth Trust, Sylva Foundation and Future Trees Trust, and the Forestry Commission’s research agency Forest Research.

The £1.2M project, funded by Defra, is the only ash dieback project to use ‘citizen science’ to help in gathering information. Members of the public are encouraged to obtain a special aluminium tag to fix to an ash tree and submit basic details about the tree on-line, together with a photo.

The project needs to identify healthy trees, especially in areas where other ash trees are succumbing to ash dieback. As spring advances and leaves begin to appear, now is the perfect time to identify the signs of ash dieback – wilting growth and possibly even bark lesions.

The Living Ash Project urgently needs your help to identify tolerant trees. It is thought that 1% of our ash trees will show a good level of tolerance to ash dieback. The Living Ash Project needs to find at least 400 of these from across the UK to create the next generation of healthy trees. Ash tags are available free of charge from the Living Ash Project by visiting their website

Defra’s Chief Plant Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spence, said

“Defra is very pleased to be able to support this important project. Not many people may know that 46 species of plants and animals can only live on ash trees, so it’s not only the trees we will be saving.”

Living Ash Project’s lead Dr Jo Clark said

“We really need the help of the public to find healthy ash trees across the country. We’re asking anyone that spends time in the countryside and cares about our woodlands to keep their eyes open for healthy trees in areas of ash dieback and if they spot a healthy tree, report it on the project website.”

Ash Dieback:  The Current Situation in the South West of England

So far, our ash tree population in Devon has been relatively fortunate in escaping with only a few cases of Ash Dieback. As professional arborists we ask people in the South and South West of England to stay vigilant in order to help prevent the spread of this devastating disease.

We have set up this task force as part of our arboricultural company which has been in operation for over 23 years, we can offer services ranging from education and awareness of the disease to the removal and safe disposal of infected trees. We are working alongside all the lead and relevant agencies to deal with this disease which is threatening one the UK’s most beautiful trees species.

If you have any questions, concerns or require an arborist to check your trees, please contact us.