“My tree, my responsibility” campaign launched to tackle Ash dieback

A new campaign has been launched to encourage landowners with ash trees on their property to inspect them for Ash dieback.

Devon County Council’s “My tree, my responsibility” campaign, supported by the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum, aims to inform owners of trees to look out for signs of the fungal tree disease and to take any appropriate action in order to maintain public safety.

More than 90% of Devon’s native ash trees are expected to be lost due to Ash dieback in the next five to 15 years.

Across the county there are around 448,000 ash trees within falling distance of the highway that are owned by third parties or on unregistered land. The overall cost of felling all of these ash trees could be more than £70 million.

Devon County Council surveys have estimated that it will potentially have to remove around 6,300 of its own ash trees from highway land across the county, which would cost the authority around £2.5 million to fell.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “It is essential that Devon’s roads are as safe as possible and we are regularly monitoring and inspecting trees alongside our highways in order to keep the network as safe as possible. We would encourage landowners to do the same, as they need to be aware that trees on their land are their responsibility. If any trees are found to be a safety hazard, we would urge them to please take appropriate action.”

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for the Environment, said: “We need landowners to take a proactive approach to managing this highly infectious tree disease. Once Ash dieback has infected an ash tree, it will shed branches and limbs, or the whole tree can be at risk of collapse.

“All landowners should ensure that any trees on their land, particularly ash trees alongside public roads and rights of way, are professionally inspected while in leaf to determine how urgently they might need attention. We also need communities and landowners to establish new plantings of different tree species to replace ash trees that will be lost.”

Devon County Council leads the Devon Ash Dieback Forum, which was established in 2016 to address the risks of the disease.

The County Council is committed to replacing trees lost through Ash dieback. It has adopted a 3-2-1 tree replacement principle, where three saplings will be planted for each mature tree it fells due to Ash dieback, two saplings will replace a semi-mature tree, and one new sapling will be planted for each ash sapling lost.

As part of its tree replacement programme, the authority has supported the planting of a small copse of native, broadleaved trees and shrubs, along with a new length of species-rich hedge at Lower Ashculme Farm, near Hemyock.

For more information visit the Devon Ash Dieback website.