Ash Dieback disease found in Norfolk

Thursday 25th October 2012

Diseased leaf 'browns' along the midrib and then down the veins cpt Norfolk WT

Ash Dieback disease has been found at Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe.

Officials from the Forestry Commission Plant Health team this week confirmed that Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s ash trees in NWT Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe are infected with Ash Dieback disease.

Lower Wood will remain open with no special measures for visitors at this time.

Chalara dieback of ash is a serious disease of ash trees caused by a fungus called Chalara fraxinea (C. fraxinea). 

The disease causes leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees, and it can lead to tree death.  It has spread from the continent where it has caused widespread damage to ash tree populations.

Experience on the continent indicates that it kills young ash trees very quickly, while older trees tend to resist it for some time until prolonged exposure causes them to succumb as well.

Woods Officers for Norfolk Wildlife Trust suspected the ash had been infected and asked Forestry Commission’s Plant Health Team to confirm.  Although the disease is present, the Wood has not been issued with a notice and so will remain open with no special measures for visitors at this time.

Head of Nature Reserves, John Milton said: 

“This is possibly the first case of Ash Dieback disease in established woodland in Norfolk, although it is likely we will now see further cases.  We are working closely with the Plant Health team from Forestry Commission and monitoring our woodlands closely. 

"Tracking the disease is going to be difficult with the imminent autumnal leaf fall, so the true extent of the disease in the UK may be difficult to establish until the spring. 

"Forestry Commission is monitoring the developments across the UK so if you suspect cases, please contact it via the website"

Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe is one of Norfolk’s few remaining ancient woodlands and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  The name Ashwellthorpe is evidence of an early settlement, perhaps of Danish origin and hints that the ash trees have been part of the landscape for over a thousand years.  Approximately 40% of the trees in Lower Wood are ash, with other species including oak, hazel, field maple, hornbeam, black thorn and hawthorn.

For more information on NWT Lower Wood, Ashwellthorpe, visit

Notes to Editors

1. Norfolk Wildlife Trust was established 85 years ago and now manages over 50 nature reserves and other protected sites around the county including ten kilometres of coastline, nine Norfolk broads, nine National Nature Reserves and five ancient woodlands.  We seek a sustainable environment for people and wildlife: where the future of wildlife is protected and enhanced through sympathetic management; and people are connected with and inspired by Norfolk's wildlife and wild spaces

2. Background from Forestry Commission website

Ash trees suffering from symptoms likely to be caused by C. fraxinea have  been found widely across Europe.  These have included forest trees, trees in urban areas such as parks and gardens, and also young trees in nurseries.
In February 2012 it was found in a consignment of infected trees sent from a nursery in the Netherlands to a nursery in Buckinghamshire, England.  In June 2012 it was found in ash trees planted at a car park in Leicestershire which had been supplied by a nursery in Lincolnshire, and the origins of the disease in this case are being investigated.  In July 2012 our colleagues in the Food & Environment Research Agency (Fera) confirmed cases in the nursery trade in West and South Yorkshire and Surrey, and by September 2012 it had been reported in a nursery in Cambridgeshire.

It has also been found at four recently planted sites - a Forestry Commission Scotland woodland at Knockmountain, near Kilmacolm, west of Glasgow; the car park in Leicester, a college campus in South Yorkshire, and a property in County Durham.

3. Statutory Plant Health Notices are served by Forestry Commission on affected owners requiring them to remove and destroy affected plants by burning or deep burial on site.  This is the only available treatment.  No Notice has been issued to Norfolk Wildlife Trust at this time.

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