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Country centre helps fight against deadly tree disease

By Kelly Wickham
kelly.wickham@sussexpost.co.uk

 

A charity is fighting back against a tree disease in the county.

 

Ash dieback is a growing concern across the country including in West Sussex and the Aldingbourne Country Centre wants to help stop it from spreading within the landscape.

 

This fungal disease is changing the local habitats, and according to West Sussex County Council, ‘the disease has the potential to kill 95 per cent of West Sussex ash trees over the next 10–20 years.’

 

The council says this would have a major impact on the county’s landscape, the wildlife it supports and other ecosystems.

 

The spores are generally released between June and September, and the disease can spread locally by wind dispersal in an area over ten miles.

 

The symptoms are often easier to spot in mid-late summer, when a healthy ash should be in full leaf. It becomes much harder to identify in autumn, when leaves are naturally changing colour and falling.

 

With the threat of the disease, the Aldingbourne Country Centre near Chichester decided to survey their grounds during the summer to help monitor and reduce the environmental impact this disease is taking locally.

 

The survey highlighted several trees in the country centre woodland walk to be infected, and as a matter of precaution the woodland was closed while the maintenance work could be carried out on the infected trees.

 

As a result of these findings, the country centre has said it will continue to assess the health of their ash trees and plan its response to reduce the spread of this disease. The woodland walk is now fully open for all to enjoy.

 

Once the trees are cut down, you need to manage their disposal effectively so that the disease is not accidentally spread by transporting the waste wood.

 

Forest Research suggests that movement of logs or unsawn wood from infected trees might also be a pathway for the disease, although this is considered to be a low risk.

 

As the country centre has biomass boilers on site which are currently run on the waste wood they collect as part of their community wood recycling scheme, they have decided to burn all the trees onsite.

 

“This will remove the transportation risk of spreading the disease, but also give the trees a purpose by creating energy to heat our Country Centre throughout the winter.”

 

said Peter Stanley, general manger at the Aldingbourne Country Centre.

 

Visit the trust’s website to find out more about their involvement in local community projects at: aldingbournetrust.org

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