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Big J

Dying ash woodland and felling licences

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Had an interesting job come in today. As part of a much larger woodland, there is a strip of about 3 acres of densely grown, massively overdrawn ash, sitting at the foot of a deep valley. It's a long strip, perhaps 400m long and 25-30m wide, though only 10-15m of it is flat. The access to get the ash out isn't too bad, as decent (albeit steep) tracks exist. In terms of space to fell the timber, there is very little, with a steep bank on one side and a river on the other. Quite a few would require winching, and it's not easy work.

 

The woodland is fairly advanced in terms of chalara fraxinea, and around 30% of the trees are dead (with some looking like they died last year). A further 20-30% are in sharp decline, and the remainder are OK at present. 

 

The issue is that of all of the trees in this 150 acre woodland, this is the only place with ash. And as luck would have it, it's the only place there is a public footpath, which is directly below the trees.


The woodland owner is justifiably very concerned about the liability of having 90ft ash standing dead above the general public and would like them removed quickly. 

 

I spoke to one of the local woodland officers with regards to the stand, and whilst the dead and dying trees would not require a felling licence, the trees still alive would. The issue is that there is no space to fell anything, and the only safe way to do it is to fell the lot. Attempting to squeeze dead trees through narrow gaps between live trees is going to result in a lot of hangers, and given the brittle nature of dead ash, none of my cutters are going to entertain that idea.

 

The woodland officer suggested that perhaps an arboricultural survey prior to felling (as opposed to a felling licence) might be an acceptable way to go. With 95% of the trees likely to die on that strip (it's almost entirely ash) and the only safe way to remove them being clearfell, there isn't much of an alternative. I think it would be most sensible to get them down in September/October, which given the switchover to online felling licences means it would be very tight on timescale. 

 

What would you do in this situation? It's not a desperately easy job, with big technical felling required (with quite a lot of winch assistance). It's one that does urgently need to be done, as it's on a site extremely close to the local epicentre of ash dieback and the trees are quite far gone. Do I put the licence application in and wait or commission a tree safety survey and get it done a bit sooner? 

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Difficult to say without knowing the site, but. As you'll be removing 60% of the ash wouldn't that create enough space to fell trees into, accepting some collateral damage to start with.

 

Maybe get some arborists in to take the tops out of the trees first leaving just poles to fell. Depends on the state of the trees I know.

 

Don't put your felling licence application in just yet. Things are changing as far as Chalara infected ash is concerned. I understand new guidance/processes will be out in July which may help.

Edited by EdwardC
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7 minutes ago, EdwardC said:

Difficult to say without knowing the site, but. As you'll be removing 60% of the ash wouldn't that create enough space to fell trees into, accepting some collateral damage to start with.

 

Maybe get some arborists in to take the tops out of the trees first leaving just poles to fell. Depends on the state of the trees I know.

 

Don't put your felling licence application in just yet. Things are changing as far as Chalara infected ash is concerned. I understand new guidance/processes will be out in July which may help.

Due to the length of the extraction route and given that most of the timber is firewood, there isn't the money in the job to allow topping out. Also, I don't know too many tree surgeons prepared to climb dead ash.

 

I just got off the phone with the woodland officer for our patch and she said to get the licence in and she'll fast track it in 5-6 weeks. This is ideal as it works well for the gap in the diary that we have to do it.

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There is a euroforest meeting/discussion  next month regarding dealing with ash dieback trees should be interesting!! I would commission a tree safety survey, then take out all the trees within striking distance of the footpath if that is possible?? seems crazy that you have to have a licence for alive trees with signs of chalara, what did they say about half dead?? im guessing some will have but rot too? so i would go round with a hammer tapping trees whilst wearing a hard hat and marking the hollow ones then taking them out. we had perfectly health trees on one job but lots were hollow so were taken out,  public safety would be my main concern!

Edited by steve collins
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1 minute ago, steve collins said:

There is a euroforest meeting/discussion  next month regarding dealing with ash dieback trees should be interesting!! I would commission a tree safety survey, then take out all the trees within striking distance of the footpath if that is possible?? seems crazy that you have to have a licence for alive trees with signs of chalara, what did they say about half dead?? im guessing some will have but rot too? so i would go round with a hammer tapping trees whilst wearing a hard hat and marking the hollow ones then taking them out. we had perfectly health trees on one job but lots were hollow so were taken out,  public safety would be my main concern!

Every tree there is in range of the footpath. Most are directly above it. 25m trees on a 15-30m wide strip with the footpath in the middle. 

 

Going to site first thing in the morning and the licence application will be in tomorrow afternoon :D

 

I'll be intrigued to hear what the Euroforest consensus on is.

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Just now, Big J said:

Every tree there is in range of the footpath. Most are directly above it. 25m trees on a 15-30m wide strip with the footpath in the middle. 

 

Going to site first thing in the morning and the licence application will be in tomorrow afternoon :D

 

I'll be intrigued to hear what the Euroforest consensus on is.

So that would ideally be the whole lot going then!

 

I spoke with them today and they said it was more a discussion with input from different contractors experiences dealing with harvesting of dead ash/chalara and butt rot trees

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26 minutes ago, steve collins said:

There is a euroforest meeting/discussion  next month regarding dealing with ash dieback trees should be interesting!! I would commission a tree safety survey, then take out all the trees within striking distance of the footpath if that is possible?? seems crazy that you have to have a licence for alive trees with signs of chalara, what did they say about half dead?? im guessing some will have but rot too? so i would go round with a hammer tapping trees whilst wearing a hard hat and marking the hollow ones then taking them out. we had perfectly health trees on one job but lots were hollow so were taken out,  public safety would be my main concern!

 

33 minutes ago, Big J said:

Every tree there is in range of the footpath. Most are directly above it. 25m trees on a 15-30m wide strip with the footpath in the middle. 

 

Going to site first thing in the morning and the licence application will be in tomorrow afternoon :D

 

I'll be intrigued to hear what the Euroforest consensus on is.

Eurodisney......rather listen to what the FC have to say........the only thing with felling all the ash..is that u may be felling healthy ash that have a resistance to the disease

 

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38 minutes ago, slasherscot said:

 

Eurodisney......rather listen to what the FC have to say........the only thing with felling all the ash..is that u may be felling healthy ash that have a resistance to the disease

 

Ordinarily, I'd agree. In other woodlands, we make every effort to retain ash and fell affected trees only. The difficulty here is that the space is so restricted that it's a fell them all or don't fell any sort of situation. Given that the footpath is reasonably busy, leaving them standing isn't an option.

 

Additionally, we can just about cover out costs if we do the lot (it's a 3/4 mile haul up a steep slope, with a total height gain of exactly 100m, and the felling is quite technical) but if we have to pick through, it could prove very expensive for the land owner, and we might well have to just clearfell next year anyway when the majority of the rest die.

 

I'm there first thing in the morning, so I'll take some photos to illustrate the issue.

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I have been thinking about this scenario for a while now ( ADB vs felling license )  and find it hard to believe that the powers to be have not pre empted this situation and come up with definitive guidelines  , even if apparently healthy trees were retained from a stand they would be very vulnerable to windblow , and if roadside trees are to be considered then closing the road once to do them all would make sense to me , not once a year as a few more die !  Utility companies ( electricity ) will also have major problems , who decides just how much die back is enough to condemn them ?  Surely deciding officers should be able to use discretion and give the go ahead or they will become swamped by applications !

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Public footpath? - probably have to shut it off while doing the work - about £600 for the privilege of applying iirc. Worth touching base with the local footpaths officer at the council otherwise could be a lot of hassle.

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