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Councils step up action against deadly Ash Dieback disease

Released: Wednesday, 04 September 2019

A task force has been created to help control a deadly disease which could wipe out all Ash trees in Adur and Worthing.

Ash Dieback has been discovered in trees at Lancing Ring in Adur and The Gallops at Findon Valley in Worthing. Almost 20 per cent of the entire woodland covering is at risk - that's estimated to be more than 1,200 of the species.

The disease, spreading across Europe, is currently incurable. This means the most common tree in West Sussex, Ash, could disappear from the landscape forever.

Adur & Worthing Councils' parks team has been carrying out an urgent study of the extent of the problem in areas particularly vulnerable, because of the volume of ash trees there.

The main plans of action will have to be felling and replanting programmes.

Residents are also asked to remain vigilant and report any possible signs of Ash Dieback they see. Symptoms the disease has taken hold include; blackened and curling young leaf shoots, a very thin crown at the top of the tree resulting in an undernourished canopy of leaves and damage to bark.

Philippa Reece, the Councils' Parks and Foreshore Manager, explained her team would be working closely with West Sussex County Council, The Tree Council and other local landowners to plan a coordinated approach to the identification of affected areas. She said:

“We will be engaging with local schools and community groups as part of these replanting programmes to try and create something special, new memories and legacies out of something so sad.”

“Unfortunately what we are seeing across Europe and other areas within the UK are that the vast majority of Ash trees that contract the disease will die so, sadly, the plan really has to be about felling affected trees and replacing with other species.”

“We're going to lose entire woodland areas, Lancing Ring as an example, because the majority of tree stock across the area is made up of Ash trees. Our environmental teams are exploring these areas most likely to be affected, allowing us to see where we can future proof against the loss of trees that are coming to Adur and Worthing.”

Ash Dieback, a fungal disease, is spread through spores from tree to tree, blocking the water transport systems in Ash trees. It was first spotted in Worthing in 2014 and identified in the borough's Crematorium a year later.

The rate of infection has been increasing all over Europe. Young trees are most susceptible, while older trees can resist longer. A small percentage of Ash trees are unsusceptible to the disease and it is hoped to breed from these in the future.

The Councils' will also be working with landowners to uncover diseased trees on private land. Responsibility for dealing with the problem will ultimately rest with the landowner.

Cllr Emma Evans, Adur District Council's Executive Member for the Environment, said:

“It's difficult action to take, but I am confident our team will do what's best for our open spaces. We have to take action against the threat to beautiful areas like Lancing Ring, and respond quickly, ensuring there are vital green places for future generations.”

Cllr Edward Crouch, Worthing Borough Council's Executive Member for Digital and Environmental Services, said:

“It's a sad position to be in, given how much Ash we have in Worthing. However, we are resolute in protecting our green spaces and keeping them flourishing, which is why we are developing this replanting programme.”

Residents are asked to be sure the tree they think is affected is Ash (it can sometimes be confused with Rowan or Elder) before contacting the Councils' Parks Department at environmentalservices@adur-worthing.gov.uk or ring 01903 221067.

Video: About Ash Dieback in Adur and Worthing

Photo: The Gallops at Findon Valley in Worthing where Ash Dieback has been found

PR19-129 - The Gallops at Findon Valley in Worthing where Ash Dieback has been found

Photo: Worthing Crematorium where Ash Dieback has been identified

PR19-129 - Worthing Crematorium where Ash Dieback has been identified

 

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(PR19-129)

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