We have received the following message from a senior countryside officer at Test Valley Borough Council:
Ash die back Valley Park woodlands local nature reserve
Over the past few months we have been conducting surveys of ash trees within Valley Park woodlands and unfortunately it is apparent that sadly the ash within the woods are almost all infected with Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (formally know as Chalara fraxinea).
With this in mind we will be looking to carry out works to remove the infected trees, surveys are ongoing but we will be concentrating firstly on high priority areas that have been identified that are either close to properties , roads or permissive paths used within the woodland. Surveys for birds and evidence of bats will be conducted prior to work being carried out as I appreciate we are currently in the active season for wildlife.
Works will begin in the next couple of weeks to remove three ash trees located along the boundary of Knightwood School. With the current situation and the school being empty this would be prudent time to carry out these works.
The phased removal of ash around Valley Park will obviously have a significant impact on the woodland and will be subject to Forestry Commission approval, but will only be required where deemed necessary as laid out above. So retention for its ecological importance in the form of deadwood deeper within the woodland will be retained.
As I am sure you will appreciate this is not decision that has been taken lightly but one that has been born of necessity to ensure we manage the woodlands so that people can enjoy them for generations to come whilst balancing sites delicate ecology.
With this in mind a replanting programme of whips (small trees) will be carried out over the winter months of which I would like to get the local community and Friends of The Parks involved in.
I will of course keep you updated as to when works will be carried out.
Ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus)