Trees are being felled at one of Devon’s most historic gardens which has been hit by the invasive fungal disease killing ash trees.
Ash dieback which is lethal to European ash trees, originated in Asia and is thought to have been brought to the UK on imported trees and was first identified in Britain in 2012.
Dartington Trust has announced after ash dieback has arrived on the Dartington estate. A programme of work in October to clear a significant number of affected trees for public safety and replant with resilient species.
Dartington originated in the 1390s when the half brother to King Richard II created a medieval manor house on the hillside overlooking the river Dart.
It is estimated Devon will be the worst-hit county in the country. Devon County Council, could face total annual costs from roadside ash trees of more than £30 million, vastly higher than the average council tree budget.
In Torbay more than 1,000 ash trees will have to be removed from council-owned land because of the widespread fungal infection called ash dieback.
The council is being recommended to set aside £200,000 to fell around 500 of those which pose the biggest risk to people, buildings or traffic by March 2021.
Around 800,000 trees in Exmoor National Park may be at risk from ash dieback, the National Park Authority has warned .
It comes after Dutch elm disease , which killed more than 60 million British elms in two epidemics.
Now Dartington Trust’s estate team have found trees with strong symptoms of ash dieback.
Because they are classified as high risk – next to roads or public footpaths where the public could be hit by falling branches.
Diseased trees that pose a risk to the public are to be felled along the main road and cycle path between Dartington and Totnes from 16 to 18 October.
In other high risk public access areas only trees showing strong signs of dieback will be felled with healthy ones left in place and monitored regularly.
In all other areas of the estate, which is 25 per cent woodland, ash trees showing over 60 per cent of crown dieback that are heavily affected will be felled and removed.
Estate manager John Channon said: “Ash trees are incredibly important as they are our third most common native tree – and play a key ecological role in our woodlands, hosting 953 other species such as birds, insects and lichens, of which 45 are believed to have only ever been found on ash.
“To protect this biodiversity, we will leave standing trees that are not heavily affected or do not appear to be affected at all. It’s important to keep as many ash trees as we can to support the other species.
“We also hope that by leaving trees standing some will show resistance to ash dieback and their progeny will enable the longer term survival of our native ash.”
During the initial felling works the Trust asks estate visitors to take special care and follow all signage for their own and the forestry team’s safety, because the wood of diseased trees is incredibly brittle, which makes them particularly difficult to remove.