A serious threat to ash trees since it was first detected in the UK in 2012, ash dieback is predicted to eventually wipe out at least 80% of all ash trees across the country.
This prediction means it’s highly likely that most landowners and farmers with ash trees on their property will, at some point, need to deal with the impact of the disease.
Marc Liebrecht, Head of Forestry & Arboriculture at Carter Jonas, shares his advice on felling, accessing grants and replanting.
Ash dieback grants: what should you do if you have ash dieback?
The action you need to take to deal with an affected tree depends on where is located and if it poses a potential risk to safety.
“When the ash tree is near a road, footpath, third-party boundary or a building, you will need to take action quickly to minimise health and safety risks, since affected trees become more and more brittle and are therefore much more likely to fall and cause damage,” says Marc.
“On the other hand, trees in woodland with no public access or isolated trees in fields require less urgent attention. It’s still worthwhile getting an arboriculturist to inspect any ash trees, but you may decide – for financial or biodiversity reasons – to leave some trees to fall naturally.”
If some trees do need felling, it’s essential that you use an experienced contractor. Ash dieback results in brittle timber, which makes felling more dangerous.
Are ash dieback grants available for felling?
There is some grant funding available to directly cover the cost of felling in woodlands. Payments per hectare range from £375 to £2,424 depending on the size of the trees and cutting method.
“Regarding roadside trees under normal circumstances, you can reclaim a proportion of some of the associated costs, such as road closures, a facilitator and a survey to help with planning,” says Mr Liebrecht.
“There is also funding for restocking, including capital items and maintenance for up to three years. The amounts available here depend on a variety of factors, including whether or not the affected trees are in woodlands and – if they are – whether it’s ancient woodland.”
Up to £6,000 per hectare is available for restocking ancient woodlands and £4,720 per hectare for other woodland. There is a per tree amount available for trees outside of woodlands, dependent on the size and type of the tree, up to a maximum of £270.44.
However, as this is part of a planning application the tree removal will be dealt with by of the planning permissions and, as such, would not be eligible for any grants.
As well as ash dieback grants, don’t forget the value of timber
Trees affected by ash dieback still have a value as timber, but the value will be directly affected by how brittle the wood is.
“The location of the trees is relevant, as they need to be accessible,” Mr Liebrecht adds.
“The roadside value for firewood grade timber (wood that’s felled but not seasoned or split) can be around £40-50 per tonne.”
Restocking after ash dieback
What should you replant, after the trees affected by ash dieback have been felled? The answer depends on the area in question.
“In ancient woodland, native broadleaf species are the most suitable – aspen, sycamore and elm for example – and I’d recommend a mix to ensure resilience,” says Mr Liebrecht. “Elsewhere, you can introduce, as well as those three, some non-native broadleaves and conifers – just make sure that you’ve got a mix and that you’re choosing species that are suitable for the land type, site conditions and rainfall levels.”