Natural England - Ash dieback advice

Ash dieback advice

26 February 2013

Thinking of visiting the countryside with family and friends? Or taking the dog for a walk in the woods? Here are some simple steps you can take to help prevent the spread of ash dieback (Chalara fraxinea).

Ash dieback large image
Chalara dieback of ash (Chalara fraxinea) © Forestry Commission

Ash dieback is a fungal disease which causes leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees, and it can lead to tree death. The risk of visitors to forests, National Nature Reserves, National Parks and National Trails spreading the disease is very small. Therefore, the countryside and the infected sites are still ‘open’ for visitors. But there are still some simple precautions you can take.

What you can do to help

This pathogen is harmless to people and animals, but to help stop the disease spreading, please take these simple precautions if you are visiting an infected or suspected area:

  • Do not remove any plant material (firewood, sticks, leaves or cuttings) from the woodland.
  • Where possible, before leaving the woodland, clean soil, mud, leaves and other plant material from footwear, clothing, dogs, the wheels and tyres of bicycles, baby buggies, carriages and other vehicles, and remove any leaves which are sticking to your car.
  • Before visiting other countryside sites, parks, garden centres and nurseries, thoroughly wash your footwear, wheels and tyres in soapy water.
  • Please follow the instructions on any signs or posters.

If you are unsure whether a wood is infected, this advice (above) is good practice to follow at all times to avoid spreading this pathogen – or any other plant diseases.

In December 2012 Natural England wrote to all our agri-environment customers and owners of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) to provide advice on combating this disease and on what action they should take if they suspect they have ash dieback disease on their holding. The letter: (40kb)pdf document also outlined what they need to do to protect their agri-environment agreements should the disease be found on their land. 

For more information about ash dieback, to watch a ‘symptoms video’ and for a pictorial guide, visit the Forestry Commission websiteexternal link.

The Government is taking the threat of this disease very seriously. It is co-ordinating work across all of the main Government departments and their agencies – including Natural England – as well as the devolved administrations, to make sure everything is being done to manage the disease.

Read the latest newsexternal link from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [9 November]