The vast majority of ash trees are being treated for the deadly ash dieback disease across Wales, according to research conducted by Tree Squadron.
Ash dieback is an incurable disease that can affect a range of ash tree species, including common ash (also known as European ash) which is prevalent across the UK, including Wales. The signs of ash dieback disease include leaves developing dark patches in summer, the dieback of shoots and leaves, and lesions developing where the branches meet the tree trunk.
As arboriculturists, we’ve witnessed ash dieback becoming a prevalent tree disease, which poses a deadly threat to ash trees in South Wales, and also across the whole of the UK. In our area of South Wales – where we cover Cardiff, Newport and the Vale of Glamorgan – it’s becoming one of our most common enquiries.
Ash Dieback is the Main Issue Affecting Ash Trees in Wales
At Tree Squadron, we are constantly seeing and treating ash dieback on ash trees. In total, around 30% of our domestic enquiries are related to ash trees, and 70% of commercial enquiries are ash dieback-related. This shows just how widespread this problem has become, that one singular issue is making up a significant proportion of our enquiries and work.
Overall, there are very few ash trees left standing that show no signs of dieback. Even the more mature or veteran trees, which are generally less susceptible to it, are now showing the symptoms.
One of the most common signs is leaf coverage, when there are bare branches, or a section of an ash tree which is missing leaves where there should be some. Another sign is black lesions on the bark, but this is harder to spot. The dropping of leaves is also another clue that there may be an issue.
When ash trees drop their leaves over the winter months, the easiest sign to spot is epicormic growth, which is the tree going into shock and sending narrow vertical shoots from the main branches.
How We Treat Ash Dieback
Most ash trees we are seeing now in Cardiff are at the later stages of ash dieback, meaning they are unsafe to climb and dismantle as we usually would as the trees are so brittle and snappy.
Instead, we need to remove these trees with the means of a Mobile Elevated Work Platform (MEWP), which is also known as a cherry picker. This is used for our high access tree surgery, and we use this machinery to conduct sectional felling, or the alternative is straight felling if we have enough space. Using a cherry picker increases the costs of a removal, making spotting the disease cheaper to treat if spotted earlier.
Is There a Cure for Ash Dieback?
There is no cure for ash dieback: once the tree has it, it will eventually die off. However, you can heavily reduce or pollard an ash tree to a low main stem height (such as 15ft), which does inject some vigour into a tree and allow it to regrow for some years, but it will still die off early.
Ash trees spread and reproduce by the tree’s seeds naturally dispersing, blowing away and scattering locally. They shoot up all over the local area, they are extremely good at self-seeding in this way. This causes whole woodlands or strips of land to have ash as the dominant tree, due to this close proximity, we are now seeing vast areas suffering and dying off as a result of the spread of ash dieback.
It is currently thought that 90% of all ash trees in the UK will die and disappear from the landscape because of ash dieback disease.
About Tree Squadron
Tree Squadron is a leading arborist that operates across South East Wales including Cardiff, Newport and the Vale of Glamorgan. Founded in 2017 by Phil Boniface, the family-run business has grown into one of the leading tree surgeons in the region, building a team of fully-trained and experienced tree surgeons and arborists.