Ash dieback is a fungal disease affecting common ash trees, Fraxinus excelsior and the narrow leaved ash, Fraxinus angustifolia, by infecting the tree and weakening it to the point at which it becomes more vulnerable to other pests and pathogens. First discovered in the UK in Buckinghamshire in February 2012, the disease has since spread across the UK and into Devon. The village of Kingskerswell is not immune to this disease and unfortunately it has been identified within our local area.

Ash dieback disease, poses a major threat to Devon’s and specifically our local landscape and biodiversity over the next 5 to 15 years. Around 90% of Ash trees in Devon are predicted to die, as a direct result of the disease. Kingskerwell has a high proportion of Ash trees throughout the village and across Kerswell Down.

If we start to take action now, we can help build resilience into our local landscape. We can also identify and manage any possible risks, created by dead and dying ash trees, including those connected to our roads, footpaths, overhead cables,

The Kingskerswell Ash Die Back Action Plan (ADAP) has been produced to provide Kingskerswell Parish Council (KKPC) with a single overarching plan to support that delivery. The ADAP will require an integrated, partnership approach, with resources being pooled and priorities agreed to be fully successful; but it will enable, direct and control the parish response to this disease.

ADAP Phases

Phase 1 – Risk Identification

This phase is an information or knowledge gathering phase. It requires KKPC to identify all Ash trees within the village area and where practical and possible digitally map them. This information needs to be gathered to deliver a detailed understanding of the location of any diseased trees and more importantly their situation and possible risk to life and property. The phase will include, but not be limited to:

Identification of local partnerships or interested parties to support the ADAP;

Advertising for tender for the resources required to complete the survey;

Sign off at full KKPC of that tender and chosen contractor;

The digital aerial mapping of the Ash tree holdings by drone;

Conduct of a foot and vehicle surveys to compliment the drone surveys;

The compilation of a documented ADB Risk Profile for KKPC;

The publication of the KKPC ADAP;

The erection of signage for our woodland areas to highlight the known risk pre any ADAP response;

Development of a communication plan through KKPC Website, to raise awareness, to promote engagement and to inform all sectors affected;

The creation of a KKPC Committee sub group to manage the ADAP.

Phase 2 – Risk Prioritisation

This phase will take the ‘knowledge’ gained through the surveys and translate that in to a risk profile, based on, risk to life and property.  Using a risk matrix the trees or woodland areas of most concern can then be identified for activity to manage that risk.  This phase will therefore include, but not be limited to:

The identification of all the key areas of risk within the KKPC area;

The subsequent risk matrix prioritisation of those risks;

The formulation of a response to activiley manage or mitigate those identified risks;

The sign off of the risk matrix and approach by KKPC;

Assessment of likely costs and resource needs more accurately, including highways authorities and telephone, electricity and railway operators;

Provide advice and support for farmers and woodlands managers, especially those with land adjacent to roads, so they can prepare for the disease;

Exchange knowledge with other Parish Councils already heavily affected by the disease.

Phase 3 – Risk Management

Once the risks have been identified and prioritised based on a standard risk matrix formula, KKPC will have a list of risks to manage.  This ‘management’ will translate to many different approaches, and felling should not be seen as the single or most effective approach to risk mitigation.

The KKPC ADAP will draw on scientific guidance available from agencies like the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission, the Woodland Trust and many others, in order to ensure our response meets all legislative and environmental standards. KKPC will follow best practice where it has been identified, and in its management activity will be directed by the principles outlined within this ADAP. Therefore this phase will include, but not be limited to:

The identification of risk mitigation and management plans for each risk identified;

The implementation of that KKPC response on the ground;

The direct management of identified diseased trees in high risk situations;

The sign off and agreement at full KKPC of any activity planned;

The continuous update of the ADAP Risk profile during works activity.

Phase 4 – Continuous Asset Management

Once the management phase is complete and KKPC has mitigated the prioritised risk, the ADAP will need to be absorbed into normal KKPC Asset Management Activity.  At this stage any response or ongoing need will be augmented into the Terms of Reference for the Asset Management Committee.  This phase will include, but not be limited to:

Identification of any areas that need to be incorporated into a Committee;

The dissolving of the ADAP Sub Group;

Prioritisation of our local activity to support ongoing ADAP activity;

Introduce replanting as part of the Down asset management plan;

Continuing to reducing barriers to local action to build ecological resilience;

Key actions to take to address high risk impacts and boost local landscape resilience;

Establish mechanisms to facilitate the continued planting and growth of replacement trees, using a diversity of species;

Identification of sites with key wildlife species dependent on ashes and take action to promote habitat resilience.