Yorkshire Dales residents urged to help fight against ash dieback fungi

Signs of ash dieback - withered leaves and twigs.

Yorkshire Dales National Park residents are being urged to take part in Ashtag, a project to help combat ash dieback fungi.

They are needed to report the spread of the fungi and, most importantly, find trees that are resistant to it.

Acting as ‘citizen scientists’, they’d be tasked with putting a metal tag on a mature ash tree, marking its location on an online map, ideally with some photos, and checking the tree for signs of the fungi once a year.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) can provide the tags and nails, along with step-by-step instructions and any other help and advice.

Ash Dieback fungi (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) has been confirmed in the national park.

It is quite prevalent, for example, in Kelco Wood in Giggleswick.

Since the government-funded Ashtag project was launched nationally last year, the YDNPA has written to parish councils to encourage people to take part.

Signs of ash dieback – no buds at top of young tree.
Signs of ash dieback – lozenge on the stem

 

Trees and Woodlands Officer Daniel Atkinson said:  “The response has been OK, but not quite the level we were hoping.  The ash is an iconic tree species in the Dales.  Many a picnic has been had under its dappled shade.  It would be a terrible shame if ashes were to disappear from our landscape.

“To my knowledge a tree showing signs of resistance hasn’t yet been found in the park.  But it’s been estimated that there are approximately 1.2 million resistant trees nationwide.  Surely that means there must be some in the Dales, which was historically an ash woodland.”

If and when a resistant tree is found, it could be propagated with another naturally immune ash to create new, healthy stock.

The only tree to be tagged so far in the Park is in the YDNPA’s car park in Grassington.

You can see its details here.

The first UK tree to be found that has a good resistance to Ash Dieback has been called “Betty”. She was discovered last year.

Please call 01756 751648 or email trees.woodlands@yorkshiredales.org.uk for more information, or to get involved.

The YDNPA has 100 tags available.

Each volunteer would get one tag, provided they don’t live in the same area, as the aim is to get the best spread across the park as possible.