Warning to public as 'catastrophic’ tree disease continues to spread in the Peak District

Rangers in the Peak District have been forced to fell trees to protect public safety as a disease described as a ‘catastrophe for nature’ continues to spread.
Rangers carry out tree safety work in the Peak District.Rangers carry out tree safety work in the Peak District.
Rangers carry out tree safety work in the Peak District.

Last year was a perfect storm for the spread of ash dieback across the country, with many ash trees across the UK now infected.

In the Peak District, National Trust rangers have identified several areas, especially in the ash dominated White Peak around Ilam and Dovedale, that have been severely impacted.

A warning has been issued to the public to watch out for infected trees near footpaths, which may be a danger.

Ted Talbot, countryside manager for the National Trust in the Peak District, said: “There’s a potential risk to the public if the badly infected trees next to footpaths and roads shed limbs as the ash ‘dies back’.

“We are also concerned that trees in ravine areas suffering from the disease could fall from the steep slopes and damage others beneath them.

"It is therefore very important that the public take note of the signage that local councils and the National Trust have put up and follow the directions provided.

"We have also updated our website with details of where the work is taking place and which paths and roads are affected. We’d advise everyone to check our website before leaving home so they can plan their route by foot or by car accordingly.”

Rangers have had to resort to felling and removing many trees in the interest of public safety – such is the scale of the problem.

Ted added: “We would normally leave dead trees in a woodland, as they provide good homes for things like bats and fungi. However, the scale of the die back here is so big that we need to fell and remove many trees for public safety.

“It’s a really sad sight to see, and it is going to cost us a lot to keep paths and roads safe and open until the disease has passed.

“If we don’t act now, future generations won’t see anything like the kind of countryside we see in the Peak District today.”

For more information on the work the National Trust is undertaking to manage ash die back in the Peak District, follow @PeakDistrictNT on social media.