Ash dieback disease, the scourge of many a British woodland estate, has sadly infected many of the ash trees in Stansted Forest.
There is no known cure for this horrible disease (more properly known as hymenoscyphus fraxineus) and most infected trees will die. We are having to undertake a major felling operation, licensed by the Forestry Commission, to remove the decaying ash trees for safety reasons, meaning some areas will be closed to the public. This is unplanned and unwanted work, which will lead to a dramatic change in some areas of the forest, but nature is a great healer and the Stansted Park Foundation is determined these areas will become beautiful and productive woodland once again for all to enjoy.
We will replant over the next few years, using a mixed palette of species to combat the pest, disease and climate change that threatens our beautiful woodlands. Some new access tracks and open spaces will also be created.
Our contractors have taken great trouble to preserve large sections of decaying wood on the forest floor, as well as creating some standing stumps – both important habitats for a myriad of creatures.
The replanting will consist predominantly of broadleaved trees with a few conifers to add diversity. The majority will be oak, some from a French seed source, better at coping with the likelihood of higher temperatures in future. There will also be wild cherry (beautiful and productive), lime (good for bees) and wild service tree (a rare native species producing valuable timber), as well as the regrowth of coppice. We will plant a few exotic species to see how they perform in forest conditions.
Please do not enter areas where there is hazard tape, even if no work appears to be happening; there may be unseen hazards, as well as large, forestry machinery and timber lorries at work.
Photo 1 - Severe dieback in trees next to a public right of way.
Photo 2 – Clearance of diseased ash.
Photo 3 - New plantation.