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Pembrokeshire Coast national Park officers monitor 100 Ash trees for disease

THERE are more than 100 Ash trees being monitored for disease by Pembrokeshire Coast national Park officers but that could double in future.
Ash dieback is a problem across the UK with 95 per cent of Ash trees expected to be affected by the disease which leaves trees rotten and potentially dangerous.

Countryside management team operations manager Steve Jones updated members of the Park’s operational review committee on the work that had been done to survey Ash trees in the national park and how many had been removed or lopped.

He said on Wednesday (March 17) that initially diseased Ash trees had been dealt with as part of generally tree maintenance work but in 2019 a targeted approach was developed as cases became more prevalent.

Key to the Park’s approach was “balancing felling with conservation” said Mr Jones, with trees placed in three zones with those in areas visited infrequently by the public left to fall and rot in situ to minimise the impact on biodiversity.

Others, such as those at visitor attractions, had to be monitored or dealt with and either felled or lopped.
Felled trees will be replaced with another native species, the committee heard, while those left lopped provided habit for birds and bats, and felled branches for snakes and other small animals.

Zone one locations inspected include Amroth car park, Castell Henllys, Oriel y Parc, Sychpant Woods, Plantation Woods and Manorbier car park.
A survey was carried out last summer, while the trees were in leaf, and data recorded in a mobile app to assist in management of the problem.
The committee heard that 77 per cent of the trees had the disease- 154 candidates for felling – which reduced to 42 trees once the zones were taken into account, leaving 112 trees to be managed through inspection every six months.

Mr Jones said he was expecting that number to double and he had “requested that £10,000 be ear marked for potential contractor costs for next year,” with this year’s costs being met within the existing budget.
A phase two survey will be carried out this summer and further felling likely in the Winter.

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