Information and advice about ash dieback disease in South Gloucestershire.

About ash dieback

Ash dieback is a fungal disease causing widespread decline of ash trees across the UK and Europe.

The disease weakens the trees it infects, causing an increased risk of falling branches and failure to thrive. It also means they are more susceptible to other tree diseases which can weaken them further.

There is no cure and very few ash trees are showing signs of long-term resistance. Control of its spread is no longer considered viable.

The symptoms

The most obvious signs that a tree is infected with the disease are:

  • dead leaves being held on the tree
  • infection spreading from the leaf tip into the stalk
  • dieback of the crown so that the ends of branches are visibly dead

What we are doing

Since 2020 we have been removing trees across South Gloucestershire identified as infected, prioritising those that are within falling distance of A or B roads as well as near schools and in public open spaces.

Since April 2020 we have removed more than 3,000 trees and have planted at least 13,000 new ones.

To reduce the chance of another disease wiping out a large number of our trees we are planting a wide variety of tree types.

They are planted with supporting stakes and cages to provide protection in their first two seasons.

It is not always practical or possible to plant a new tree in the exact location of the one removed.

Planned works 2023-24

In 2023-24 we will be carrying out works in Kingswood, Bradley Stoke South, Central Yate, Filton and Oldland Common.

You can view a map showing the locations of planned ash tree removals.

Due to the nature of the disease, it is likely we will also carry out some reactive works. Reactive works may not be visible on the above link.

Surveying work

Trees are increasingly recognised as important for climate resilience and their positive effect on our mental health and welling.

To enable us to protect them, and deal with ash dieback and any future disease threat, we are creating a database of the location, species and condition of every tree on council-owned land.

In 2020 we surveyed ash trees within the Doddington ward and found 159 showing signs of the disease, which were then removed, including the stumps.

In 2021 we identified potential new planting sites and between November and March 2022 we planted 287 new trees.

In the first year after planting we visited 20 times to water each tree, loosen its ties if needed and do basic pruning. After two years we will return to remove the stakes and cages and carry out any further pruning required. Where possible the cages are reused for future projects.

We have carried out similar projects in 6 of our 35 wards – Dodington, Staple Hill, Thornbury North, Patchway, Bradley Stoke North and Downend.

As a result of the surveys we have carried out so far, we now have an accurate record of 45,000 trees growing on South Gloucestershire Council land including their location and condition.

Advice for landowners

You should check if you have any ash trees on your property. The Woodland Trust provides information on how to do this.

If you have ash trees, establish their condition. You can find photographs of the symptoms to help you identify the disease on the Forest Research website.

If you have ash trees that are close to roads and footpaths you may wish to have them inspected by an expert. The Arboriculture Association gives advice on choosing one. You should follow their advice and keep records of any inspections and works completed.

You are not required by law to remove ash trees affected by ash dieback unless they pose a risk to others. However as the landowner you may be held responsible if your trees fall and cause damage or injury.

GOV.UK has further guidance for land and tree owners about managing ash dieback.

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