Working for a large estate in Wiltshire on behalf of a forestry management company, we have recently been carrying out roadside felling of infected ash trees.
Sadly, the outbreak and spread of Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (formally chalara fraxinea) or Ash diebback as it is commonly referred to, is spreading across the British Isles with devastating effect.
The decision to remove mature roadside ash trees now, rather than when they are severely infected and pose a threat to road users, was not taken lightly. But in doing so, offered us as the contractor, the opportunity to carry out the works without the risk of working on dead or very dangerous trees.
That being said, the condition of the trees was mixed, with some mature trees showing little sign of infection, whilst others clearly in major decline. One common observation was the explosion of timber and branches as the trees hit the ground on impact; signalling to us that although they may appear sound visually, they are infact severely compromised structurally.
With the safety of traffic management in place, we used the winch tractor to assist the felling operation. The timber was processed and trimmed out for firewood sales and brash stacked up for chipping.
The use of the ‘treedig’ with rotator grab made the mammouth task of breaking down the large crowns and tidying up a lot easier.
With the safety of road users of paramount importance, we fear that removal of roadside ash trees showing signs of dieback is now a necessity, with the landscape of Britain’s countryside also set to change significantly over the coming years, as this magnificent species is under threat.