A dedicated team is being set up by Telford and Wrekin Council to tackle the impact of Ash Dieback, a killer disease that could wipe out up to 35% of the counties trees. The disease was first recorded in the area in 2013.

Ash Dieback is a fungus that is sweeping across the UK and decimating populations of ash trees. It is estimated that all UK ash trees will be wiped out over the next 15-20 years.

Around 35% of the 15 million trees in the Telford and Wrekin borough are ash. This means without management and replanting of new trees, the county could lose over 5 million trees.

A new £150,000 team is being set up who will be charged with surveying the trees and felling any that cause a safety risk in areas close to public footpaths or roads. Ash are naturally brittle – branches weakened from the disease are at a high risk of falling.

The councils team will be looking to fill the gaps of lost trees with natural regeneration and replacement planing of disease resistant native and non-native trees. Details of which will be confirmed within the councils new ‘tree and woodland management policy’ that is due to be agreed by the council’s cabinet on 10th June.

Councillor Carolyn Healy, Telford & Wrekin Council cabinet member for climate change, green spaces, natural and historic environment, said:

“Our environment matters greatly to people. As well as helping to capture CO2, regulating summer temperatures, improving air quality and reducing noise, trees are an attractive asset that are vital for wildlife and people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.

This policy supports our focus on the wellbeing of people, wildlife and our planet, sets out our approach to planting more trees and outlines how we manage Ash Dieback which is a national challenge.

Trees help us to tackle the climate crisis and are a vital part of our commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030. In 2020, we launched the Trees4TW scheme which gave 8,600 trees to local residents, schools and landowners, and this year we announced our plans for a memorial tree garden for Covid-19 victims and key workers.

We will continue to work with our partners to plant more trees for the benefit our planet and to mitigate against the loss of trees through Ash Dieback, other diseases and storm damage.”

Caroline Talbot
Author: Caroline Talbot