Monday, March 1st 2021
Sadly, many of the Ash trees at Foxglove have succumbed to Ash Dieback. According to the Woodland Trust this will kill around 80% of the Ash trees across the UK. At a cost of billions (an estimated £15 billion), the effects will be staggering. It will change the landscape forever and threaten many species which rely on Ash. Ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) is a fungus which originated in Asia. The fungus can spread for miles as spores. It enters the tree through the leaves and then grows inside it, eventually blocking its water transport systems and causing it to die. Many of affected Ash trees at the reserve are growing by the pathways making them a hazard to staff and visitors. An assessment was carried out and the most dangerous ones that would fall onto footpaths are being felled or having large limbs removed over the next few weeks whilst the reserve is closed.
The work is being carried out by Yorkshire Tree Specialists famous for their appearance at the Covert on Tony Robinson's Coast to Coast when they felled a tree into the lake to create a perch for the waterfowl.
It is just as well that the reserve is closed to the public as the footpaths are slightly obstructed with brash! The team will start the clearing up process shortly; most of the branches will be made into woodchips or stacked into habitat piles.
Although it is sad to see these beautiful trees come to an end, where possible as much standing deadwood will be left (as large trunks or 'monoliths'). These can provide a valuable habitat for mammals, small birds, reptiles and invertebrates. The felling is also being carried out outside of the bird nesting season, to minimise the impact on the environment and wildlife. It is hoped that by opening new glades, more light will reach the forest floor, so we may see more butterflies, wildflowers and other species benefitting in the longer term. Our sincere thanks go to the Defence Infrastructure Organisation who are very kindly funding this vital work.
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