Managing ash dieback in Kent

With as many as half a million Ash trees growing on private land, KCC is urging owners to be aware of the disease.

Since 2012, KCC has chaired the multi-agency Kent Resilience Forum Ash Dieback Strategic Co-ordinating Group when the fungal pathogen was first discovered in Kent.

Ash dieback is a fungus that originated in Asia and because the European Ash – Kent’s most widespread tree – did not evolve with the fungus, it means it has no natural defence against it.

The fungus spores can blow many miles away, landing on other trees and penetrating inside until it blocks its water transport systems, causing it to die.

KCC has been ensuring that there is well-evidenced and effective biosecurity and emergency planning contingencies for threats to Kent’s environment.

As a council it has been carrying out annual surveys on its own Ash trees as well as carrying out proactive maintenance, such as removing infected saplings and small trees to try and halt its spread.

As part of the work, KCC and Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Unit initiated the Ash Project, a multi-agency initiative with information on the local risk.

If you have Ash trees, you can help stop the spread of ash dieback by collecting the fallen leaves and burning, burying or deep composting them which helps disrupt the fungus’ spread.

KCC will continue its work to combat Ash dieback and look to replant with native tree species to replace the lost Ash.

See here for more.

What does ash dieback look like?

Ash dieback can affect ash trees of all ages.

Younger trees succumb to the disease quicker but in general, all affected trees will have these 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.

What is ash dieback?

Ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) is a fungus which originated in Asia. It doesn’t cause much damage on its native hosts of the Manchurian ash (Fraxinus mandshurica) and the Chinese ash (Fraxinus chinensis) in its native range.

However, its introduction to Europe about 30 years ago has devastated the European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) because our native ash species did not evolve with the fungus and this means it has no natural defence against it.

Managing ash dieback in Kent was last modified: November 28th, 2019 by Thom Morris