Residents and visitors to Wirral are being encouraged to look out for signs of the highly destructive tree disease ash dieback this summer. The disease has spread rapidly throughout the UK’s ash trees since 2012 and kills around 80% of those it infects.
Ash dieback can affect ash trees of all ages and should be reported to the council as soon as possible so that any dangerous trees can be removed if they are unsafe. Infected ash trees do not always need to be felled immediately, only if they are unsafe. In fact, by retaining them we can help the local population of ash develop resistance to the disease. There is no cure, however.
Affected trees will have the following symptoms:
- Leaves develop dark patches in the summer.
- They then wilt and discolour to black. Leaves might shed early.
- Dieback of the shoots and leaves is visible in the summer.
- Lesions develop where branches meet the trunk. These are often diamond-shaped and dark brown.
- Inner bark looks brownish-grey under the lesions.
- New growth from previously dormant buds further down the trunk. This is known as epicormic growth and is a common response to stress in trees.
Trees on private land
If you suspect an ash tree in your garden or land is infected with ash dieback you’ll need to get advice from a qualified arboriculturalist.
Some trees are protected by Tree Preservation Orders and may need permission before works are carried out. You can find a map of Tree Preservation Orders online at wirral.gov.uk/tree-preservation-orders .
To find a quality arboriculturalist you can check their membership of a professional body, either the Arboricultural Association or the International Association of Arboriculturalists.
It’s also important you follow general good practice in looking for arboricultural work, be wary of doorstep traders. The Arboricultural Association provides a list of questions you can ask when choosing an arboriculturalist.
If an infected tree is felled on your land be sure to ask your arboriculturalist how they will dispose of the wood and leaves, as incorrect disposal can risk further spread of the disease.