What is Ash Dieback?
Ash dieback (also kown as Chalara Dieback) is a serious disease of ash trees caused by a fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. The fungus progressively damages the vascular tissue of trees resulting in dieback, often at the crown. The fungus causes dead or dying branches to fall and can eventually kill a tree, or allow other pathogens e.g. honey fungus to accelerate wood decay and lead to its eventual death. Ash dieback is the most significant tree disease to affect broadleaved trees in the UK since Dutch elm disease gained prominence in the 1960s. Based on data from European infections, up to 85% of UK ash trees outside woodlands are expected to die from it. It is inevitable that all ash trees will be exposed to it (including those near roads or public rights of way); experience from the continent shows that we can expect 70-95% of ash trees to die over the next two or three decades. Some locations will experience this loss more rapidly. There is no cure for ash dieback and it is not possible to prevent its spread.
What are the implications of the disease?
Dead and diseased ash trees can pose real risks to human safety, in addition to considerable economic and environmental impacts. Ash dieback will not be ‘business as usual’ for tree and landscape managers in Scotland. Scottish Forestry believes that we are now at a level of infection that means land managers must take action to identify and monitor infected trees and to manage them accordingly. Estimates are that the cost of managing the safety aspects alone of the disease across Scotland could cost land managers collectively anything from £4 million to £20 million each year as the disease progresses.
Costs of the problem
The national cost of managing trees with ash dieback (which could include monitoring, pruning and, where necessary, felling) is difficult to calculate but it has been estimated that across the UK, and leaving aside the notional cost of the loss of ecosystem services, the cost is likely to exceed £15 billion across the UK in the next 10 years. As part of that, Scotland’s costs could, potentially, run to £180 million.
Roadside Ash trees growing close to public roads are a priority for monitoring as tree condition (the hazard) and location (the risk) need to be considered together when assessing the danger to road users. In Scotland, Roads Authorities have responsibility for managing and maintaining public roads, including road verges, as outlined in the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984. The duty of care outlined in the Occupiers Liability (Scotland) Act 1960 is particularly relevant to those who own or manage land adjacent to public roads.
“Ash Dieback will not be ‘Business as Usual’ for Tree and Landscape Managers in Scotland.” The Tree Council, 2021
How do we tackle Ash Dieback?
To assist local authorities in engaging with this problem, LJX Ltd have committed trained teams and specialised machinery to efficiently handle large-scale Ash dieback action plans. Through considerable investment in our new training facility, we have been able to produce talented operatives equipped with all the required skills and equipment necessary for a task of this magnitude, making us the supplier of choice for any scale of project.
Huge quantities of waste wood will be an unavoidable by-product of the UK's Ash dieback efforts. LJX Ltd are already capable of recycling all chip and timber waste through our existing biomass recycling pipeline.
In partnership with industry leaders, we hold all relevant SEPA certification and an in-place logistics network for onward transport to biomass recycling sites.
We are currently in dialogue with local authorities across Scotland, working together to mitigate this looming public liability crisis. Now is the time for Authorities and Landowners to be proactive in tackling Ash dieback and LJX Ltd are here to help.
For more reading on Ash Dieback you can read some of our blogs on the subject here: Ash Dieback Risks Lives and Ash dieback set to wipe out 80% of ash trees in the UK.
LJX Tree Surgeons is based in Renfrewshire and covers Glasgow, Edinburgh, and beyond. Please get in touch with us for more information.