Officials from Forestry Commission Plant Health team this week confirmed that Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s ash trees in NWT Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe are infected with Ash Dieback disease.
Chalara dieback of ash is a serious disease of ash trees caused by a fungus called Chalara fraxinea (C. fraxinea). The disease causes leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees, and it can lead to tree death. It has spread from the continent where it has caused widespread damage to ash tree populations. Experience on the continent indicates that it kills young ash trees very quickly, while older trees tend to resist it for some time until prolonged exposure causes them to succumb as well.
Woods Officers for Norfolk Wildlife Trust suspected the ash had been infected and asked Forestry Commission’s Plant Health Team to confirm. Although the disease is present, the Wood has not been issued with a notice and so will remain open with no special measures for visitors at this time.
Head of Nature Reserves, John Milton said: “This is possibly the first case of Ash Dieback disease in established woodland in Norfolk, although it is likely we will now see further cases. We are working closely with the Plant Health team from Forestry Commission and monitoring our woodlands closely. Tracking the disease is going to be difficult with the imminent autumnal leaf fall, so the true extent of the disease in the UK may be difficult to establish until the spring. Forestry Commission are monitoring the developments across the UK so if you suspect cases, please contact them via their website.”
Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe is one of Norfolk’s few remaining ancient woodlands and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The name Ashwellthorpe is evidence of an early settlement, perhaps of Danish origin and hints that the ash trees have been part of the landscape here for over a thousand years. Approximately 40% of the trees in Lower Wood are ash, with other species including oak, hazel, field maple, hornbeam, black thorn and hawthorn.
For more information on NWT Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe