Notification of tree felling works on National Trust land in response to Ash Dieback

January 2022

In recent years our native ash trees have been suffering from a specific fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (Chalara fraxinea) which causes progressive die back of the trees. In locations where the dying trees could be a risk to public safety, the National Trust policy is to proactively fell trees before they become dangerous which in most cases is before the tree has suffered 50% die back in the canopy. The work will be done in the winter by specialist contractors with specialist equipment that will get the job done as efficiently as possible to cause minimum disruption. The plan is to start in late January 2022 provided all permissions are in place but we’re not able to issue specific dates at this stage. There will be more information on site, through social media and on the National Trust website nearer the time.

Where the felling is next to public footpaths and bridleways (north side of Tennyson Down and the bridleway from Cowleaze to Luccombe Down), we have applied to the IW Council for these public rights of way to be closed for the duration of the work for safety reasons and where possible a path diversion will be arranged. These closures are likely to last just over a week each.

At the Tennyson Down site trees will be felled in a strip up to 35 metres wide to ensure the public right of way is safe to use afterwards. Large machinery will be used to enable efficient processing of timber in just a few days. In places a level track will be excavated for safe passage of machinery. Some sycamore will be felled as well and after felling we will be reverting the area (approx. 2 ha) to open chalk grassland habitats by scraping off some areas to bring the chalk nearer the surface and give chalk grassland plants a better chance of becoming established. This is one way of turning round the loss of ash trees to become a nature conservation opportunity, albeit a different habitat, however it is one for which the SSSI is notified. Cord wood will be stacked near to the path and extracted at a later date when ground conditions allow.

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