Article prepared by John Lockhart, Chairman 30th July 2020
As I travel around Suffolk and Essex today (28 July), it is difficult for your eye not to be drawn to the many dead and dying ash, in particular trees just coming into the prime of life within some of the well-established road-scheme plantations.
It is the first anniversary of our well received guidance advice note “Sunset for ash trees?” and our plan is to undertake a full update of this following the end of the growing season this autumn, once we have a clearer idea of what we and others are experiencing on the ground.
However, we felt it would be worth providing you with a short update note now, to allow sufficient time for you to review the condition of your ash across the balance of this growing season, to enable effective planning for the impacts that are likely to be just around the corner.
As a business we continue to be at the centre of the discussions around this issue with our involvement with the National Tree Safety Group, Defra Ash Dieback Health and Safety Tasks Force and numerous professional bodies. Sadly the news coming back from many of the areas most severely affected by the disease, in particular Cornwall, Devon and the eastern counties is not encouraging. Certainly within Cornwall, the local authority is preparing to undertake some major programmes of felling of highway trees, with Devon close behind.
Whilst these counties are undoubtedly ahead of the curve, there is little doubt that over the next few years others will be facing similar challenges.
Defra and the Forestry Commission continue to work around the issues associated with ash dieback and we would hope that we will be able to report some positive outcomes when we review our advice note in the autumn.
There is a real understanding of the challenges that landowners and managers will have to face and we are hopeful that some practical support and guidance will be coming forward shortly.
The National Tree Safety Group are also updating their excellent guidance note ‘Common Sense Risk Management of Trees’, with a view to relaunching this in early 2021.
With the challenges ahead we will need new and adaptive legal frameworks and mechanisms to support owners and managers to address the challenges that they will have to face. Our advice note and its proposed approach are still completely relevant, and if anything more so than when our advice notice was published last year. Our RACER process, summarised below, provides a clear pathway to guide the decision making process in line with your own objectives.
A healthy ash tree at roadside
Resource: Understanding what you have
Approach: What are your critical objectives and responsibilities?
Compliance: Working within the existing and emerging legal framework
Execution: Ensuring this is well planned and cost effective
Replant: Replacement planting for the future
Our experts are always on hand to help and support you in any way they can, as we all work to plan an effective way forward for the future.