There are compensations for having to give up driving. As a passenger at this time of year i scan the hedgerows looking for the telltale signs of dead twigs on the ash trees. There are some round here, but the majority are still healthy.
There are ash trees in nearly all the woods at Staunton. They are most common on the clay soils on the southern, Ashby, side. Come to think of it, is that the origin of the name Ashby? They prefer an alkaline soil and are most common around the limestone outcrops at Breedon on the Hill and Dimminsdale.
So, what’s to be done. The disease is transmitted by spores and there is no known cure. One estimate I’ve read suggests that 97% of the trees will be lost, based on experience in Denmark. In some local areas the Forestry Commission and private owners have reacted by felling all the ash in their young plantations. Government agencies are working to identify disease resistant strains, but I feel this is premature when the outbreak is still ‘work in progress.’ As for ourselves, thinning a young plantation last year we took out alder, which is being killed stone dead by another disease, and left ash, which appeared healthy. By the way, that alder disease only appears in young trees planted at Coleorton after opencast mining, and not here at Staunton. This suggests it came in with the planting stock. There are lessons to be learnt.
And here again there is a silver lining of sorts. We sell logs through our Ten Mile Timber Company, and ash is the very best of timbers for burning.