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advice on a small semi ancient woodland with ash dieback


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A client has asked me to look at what they have told me is a small (1-2 acre) semi ancient woodland and advise them on the best way to manage the ash dieback and suggest other management ideas. Apparently there are a lot of mature ash in there.

But i wanted to check what legislation i might need to be aware of that isn't usually part of arboriculture jobs I'm more familiar with.

They have a footpath through the woodland so 'managing' ash dieback is about making trees within striking distance of the path safe and then replanting with something suitable. 

Do we need a felling license to take a number of ash down or is it exempt because of dieback? Would I need any other permissions to do thinning/felling/planting work in the woodland? I'm assuming we don't need to do an environmental impact assessment?

Once I know exactly what's there I'll probably be back for management suggestions.

Help and advice much appreciated thankyou.

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2 hours ago, hamilton32 said:

A client has asked me to look at what they have told me is a small (1-2 acre) semi ancient woodland and advise them on the best way to manage the ash dieback and suggest other management ideas. Apparently there are a lot of mature ash in there.

But i wanted to check what legislation i might need to be aware of that isn't usually part of arboriculture jobs I'm more familiar with.

They have a footpath through the woodland so 'managing' ash dieback is about making trees within striking distance of the path safe and then replanting with something suitable. 

Do we need a felling license to take a number of ash down or is it exempt because of dieback? Would I need any other permissions to do thinning/felling/planting work in the woodland? I'm assuming we don't need to do an environmental impact assessment?

Once I know exactly what's there I'll probably be back for management suggestions.

Help and advice much appreciated thankyou.

Check with your local FC private woodlands officer, ours said if 50% of the crown dead and within a tree length of a road or public right of way then we could fell with no licence application.

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19 minutes ago, openspaceman said:

Check with your local FC private woodlands officer, ours said if 50% of the crown dead and within a tree length of a road or public right of way then we could fell with no licence application.

Sounds sensible but I'd want that in writing as it seems somewhat open to interpretation. The advice still states: "Felling diseased ash requires a felling licence from the Forestry Commission, unless the trees are dead or pose a real and immediate danger. Restrictions such as tree preservation orders must also be respected. Your local authority will be able to provide guidance."

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I'm reluctant to reply to these threads as I'm a woodland owner rather that a qualified arb or forestry worker. Having that in mind I'll say the following.

 

What do the owners want? Do they just want to manage the woodland for habitat, or do they want an income or something like a supply of firewood? 

 

If you need to take out some trees what is the actual volume you'll need to remove? Can you work with the felling exemptions, not just dead trees being exempt but the 5 cubic meter per quarter exemption? (If you fell over two quarters over two days you can get 10 cubic meters).

 

If you need a feeling licence then you'll need a management plan, are the owners likely to want to do one? I did my own and it was a useful thing for me to do, I can offer more advice on this if required. 

 

I will add that in my experience the local forestry officer wasn't at all interested in processing a felling license for a small woodland (10 acres) so I'd suggest trying to avoid the need for a licence if possible.

 

One other thing, is there much die back? I'm my experience once a tree shows signs of die back it will not recover but I've got quite a few trees that aren't showing many signs of die back whilst others have some signs and others are dead.

 

 

 

Edited by Paul in the woods
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Like Paul I am a woodland owner not a 'professional' but I would strongly suggest you involve your local Forestry Commission Officer so you don't fall foul of any legislation. Given there is a footpath through the wood you will likely have 'concerned' walkers involving themselves in your activities! Bear in mind if you're felling near a footpath you might need to close it off - local council involvement etc.

You would need to consider wildlife impact, I have run into the Great Crested Newt problem while trying to get an access to our wood, Naturespace have an interactive map showing likely habitat implications and the view is that if the habitat is good for newts you need to have suitable working practices in place. You may need to cover yourself just in case someone walking claims to have seen them or badgers etc. Any ponds nearby or in wood?

Basically be aware of potential problems and impacts and be able to show you have complied and taken reasonable steps to mitigate. PITA but it's the world we live in.

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Generally i find that woodland owners don't know what they want to do with their woods. 

Do the woods have any rare species associated with Ash?

How many use the footpaths every day?

Are there local do-gooders that are likely to stir up trouble?

Health & safety legislation when concerned with public safety supperceds all other legislation. 

If the owner isn't sure what they want to do with the wood,  then your best option is to fell out everything with the potential to fall across public roads/ paths, and replant.

 

 

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Thanks for your feedback everyone. I will work out a plan with the owner and see exactly what volume we are working with over what time frame.

 

 

I messaged the FCO but after specifically asking about ash dieback, they didn't actually mention it at all or answer me. I got this response....

"

While I cannot advise specifically on this case, I have linked our guide on instances where a felling licence is required:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/876642/Tree_Felling_-_Getting_Permission_-_web_version.pdf

 

You will need a felling licence if you wish to thin the woodland, as I assume this would be taking out more than 5m3. There are no restocking conditions needed for thinning licences as you are only permitted to remove up to 30% of the canopy cover. Anything greater than a thinning, i.e. Regeneration Fell or Clear Fell, will come with enforceable restocking conditions that the applicant and the Forestry Commission agree on." 
 

They basically told me everything I already know and nothing about the rules for felling ash with dieback... nvm. 

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Whilst I like a few of the other members tread a fine line as a woodland owner.

 

I would say treat it as a long term project, fell little & often, obviously starting at the footpath, maybe even fence it off to add to the safety aspect.

 

And always completely chip any tree or haul it away off site. Leave nothing as evidence and do a few days a month or whatever the owner can afford.

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It may not be practical, or affordable, to do little and often. That's what annoys me with the FC not bothering to process my felling licence, yes if I do the work myself I can cope with the 5 cube a quarter limit but if I want to get someone in then they will want to cut far more than that. It's a shame they don't merge the limits into a yearly limit, that would he!p reduce paperwork. I'm also not keen on felling during nesting season.

 

One thing I know some do, not sure of the legality with felling licence licence, but if trees need to be dismantled rather than felled then leave some of the stems for the next quarter.

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