Woodland Journeyman, Jon Jewett, completed an apprenticeship with the Wildlife Trust last year. He has some really interesting and insightful views about woodland and wildlife that we felt would be of interest to readers.
In part four of this Woodland Journeyman mini series, Jon shares some hope in the fight against Ash Dieback. Ed
There is hope.
Some European Ash may yet show signs of resilience, with Forest Research and their European partners already unlocking the tree and fungus genetic coding with unprecedented rapidity.
Click on images to see larger versions and descriptions
But it’s still early days and natural immune response is expected to take 100s of years to develop and then repopulate the countryside with disease resistant variants.
The Living Ash Project
The Living Ash Project hopes to assist and speed up this recovery by monitoring resilient trees and planting from their potentially resistant seed stock in strict controlled experiments. Remarkably, within a few years we may have the ability to replant what has been lost.
Isolated park trees have also faired slightly better, possibly from being exposed to less spores, in this instance it is advised to collect fallen leaves and burn immediately, whilst labour intensive it might just buy enough time for the “R” number to drop.
Constructive devastation for the greater good
In the meantime we are forced down a path of constructive devastation for the greater good.
As Ash will happily coppice, any tolerant trees should and will regrow from the stump. You are not killing the tree if you retain the root stock by coppicing, this is true for most deciduous native trees in Britain. In fact the life expectancy can be extended by a hundred years in healthy root systems, in some cases indefinitely, we haven’t lived long enough to find out yet.
Ask about “unnecessary tree work”
Finally, if you are concerned by unnecessary tree work then please do ask or raise it with your local authority.
Most arborists are militant conservationists and happy to answer inquisitive minds, waffling on for hours. We probably spend too much time in the woods, void of human contact.
A minority are also cowboys, like in any other industry. If the answer is simply “The client said so” then be concerned, hug a tree and ask to speak to the manager. If they have a chainsaw in hand then it’s best to maintain a healthy social distance of at least two tree lengths if you value your height.
A thorn in the side is worth two in the hand?
It’s evident the council, professionals and media have failed to effectively get these messages across. We shall have to do better. But also your opinion does matter, as highlighted by the uproar following controversial tree works across The Island.
If you have an Ash tree in your garden then do check out Forestry England’s illustrated guidance and seek further advice from a professional.
Anyway, I’ve rambled enough. Go plant a tree, make sure it’s native and don’t forget to water it.
The Old Ash Tree by Susanna Moodie
Thou beautiful Ash! thou art lowly laid,
And my eyes shall hail no more
From afar thy cool and refreshing shade,
When the toilsome journey’s o’er.
The winged and the wandering tribes of air
A home ‘mid thy foliage found,
But thy graceful boughs, all broken and bare,
The wild winds are scattering round.
The storm-demon sent up his loudest shout
When he levelled his bolt at thee,
When thy massy trunk and thy branches stout
Were riven by the blast, old tree!
It has bowed to the dust thy stately form,
Which for many an age defied
The rush and the roar of the midnight storm,
When it swept through thy branches wide.
I have gazed on thee with a fond delight
In childhood’s happier day,
And watched the moonbeams of a summer night
Through thy quivering branches play.
I have gathered the ivy wreaths that bound
Thy old fantastic roots,
And wove the wild flowers that blossomed round
With spring’s first tender shoots.
And when youth with its glowing visions came,
Thou wert still my favourite seat;
And the ardent dreams of future fame
Were formed at thy hoary feet.
Farewell–farewell–the wintry wind
Has waged unsparing war on thee,
And only pictured on my mind
Remains thy form, time-honoured tree!