Bepton Down is bordered by many trees some of which are Ash.
Unfortunately last summer it became apparent that some of these trees were becoming distressed and beginning to show signs of “drying”. Branches were becoming bare and brittle and little new growth if any was taking place. There was definitely a major problem. In view of the fact that Ash Die Back or Chalara is now a major scourge I took some photos and sent them in to the TREE HEALTH DIAGNOSTIC & ADVISORY SERVICE which comes under Forestry Research. This is a governmental bureau.
I received this reply:
“I have had a careful look at your photographs and the ash you have reported is showing signs of Chalara ash dieback. The wilting leaves and bare branches are typical of the disease. The tree you have reported is within a 10km area where we have confirmed Chalara ash dieback in the wider environment.”
There is nothing to be done about this and although most if not all of the Ash trees present on Bepton Down and in the wider area will succumb to this disease it does not call for the felling of the affected trees.
These will remain in situ unless the landowner decides to have them removed. Eventually other species will take root as light unaffected by a canopy of leaves will reach the ground and encourage new growth.
The cause is a fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. (The fungus was previously called Chalara fraxinea, hence the name of the disease.) Chalara causes leaf loss, crown dieback and bark lesions in affected trees. Once a tree is infected the disease is usually fatal. However there is a glimmer of hope as evidence from continental Europe suggests that older, mature ash trees can survive infection and continue to provide their landscape and wildlife benefits for some time.
Just one other thing this disease does not affect any other plant species.