New guidance on managing ash in woodland in light of ash dieback

20 September 2018

Read our new guidance on responding to ash dieback to help you manage your woodland for the future.

To support our customers in the management of ash in woodlands (in light of ash dieback) we have published new guidance – Responding to ash dieback operations note 46 which provides practical advice to those with responsibility for the management of ash in woodlands in England.

We have also produced a YouTube video - Updated guidance for managing woodland with ash dieback describing how to maintain the benefits of woodland whilst managing the impact of the disease using our updated guidance.

This guidance has been informed by UK researchers and practitioners, and draws on evidence from Europe, where the disease has a 25-year history.

Managing ash on your land

Individual landowners are responsible for the care and management of trees on their land and should take a strategic approach to the management of ash. We strongly recommend that all owners of woodland containing ash prepare or amend existing management plans to describe how ash will be managed. This guidance should not be considered proscriptive, and the choice of action will depend on owners’ and managers’ objectives, the woodland setting, and the level of ash dieback infection, including any immediate health and safety concerns. Use the ash dieback management decision tool at the end of the guidance to help with this.

The Woodland tree health grant is available year round to support the restocking of those woodlands that have been felled due to a confirmed tree health issue. Please see our Woodland Support page on GOV.UK for more information on eligibility criteria.

How does this affect felling permissions?

Unless trees are dead or pose a danger to the public, felling of diseased ash currently requires a felling licence from the Forestry Commission. Landowners should ensure that they have long term felling permissions in place, including across open land use environments e.g. farms, to allow outbreaks of ash dieback to be managed without delay. Such a felling licence application should consider all the trees on the property, including those outside of woodlands e.g. on roadsides, hedgerows and public rights of way, and not just those in woodland settings.

Separate advice on managing non-woodland ash will be published later in the year.