Ash Dieback Disease arrives at Wapley
Ash dieback disease has arrived at Wapley Bushes, and major tree works will be needed. Ash dieback is a fungus that came from Asia, crossed Europe and is now sweeping the UK. It kills around 95% of affected ash trees. There is no cure – the best remedy is replanting with other native species to keep the right habitat for birds, woodland creatures, insects, fungi and other plants. Ash dieback particularly affects Wapley Bushes because most of the tallest trees in the woods are ash.
Dodington Parish Council, which owns Wapley Bushes, has had professional surveys done to identify affected trees. There is no imminent danger, but the priority is to make safe the infected trees that are near the main paths. In September to November 2020 around 24 major ash trees will be reduced to around 6 metres in height, so that they can still provide habitat for insects, birds etc while they decay.
If you explore the Ancient Woodland you will find that Wapley Bushes Conservation Group has already planted hundreds of young replacement trees of other species over the last three years because they knew that ash dieback was coming.
Most of the Centenary Wood – the part-grown plantation next to the Upper Meadow – is also smaller ash trees. These will all be felled and replaced by different native species, leaving some clearings and paths. Following a thorough tender process, the Parish Council has appointed Teign Trees and Landscapes to help with the initial work to fell the trees in the Centenary Wood and reduce the height of the 24 major ash trees.
The Parish Council and Wapley Bushes Conservation Group are looking for volunteers and community groups to help with their replanting programme – they aim to plant 250 or more trees during winter 2020-2021. Over the five years to the end of next winter they will have planted as many trees as are being cut down, so the woodland and its flora and fauna will be preserved for the future.
If you or your group would be interested in helping with the replanting, or if you have questions about ash dieback, please contact Dodington Parish Council.
Map of Wapley Bushes – the red dots show the most used paths in the Nature Reserve.