Devon Ash Dieback Action Plan

Ash dieback disease, already present in most parts of the county, poses a major threat to Devon’s landscape and biodiversity over the next 5 to 15 years. Around 95% of Ash trees in Devon are predicted to die over the coming years as a result of the disease. 

What is Ash dieback?

Ash dieback is a fungal disease affecting common ash trees, Fraxinus excelsior and the narrow leaved ash, Fraxinus angustifolia, by infecting the tree and weakening it to the point at which it becomes more vulnerable to other pests and pathogens. First discovered in the UK in Buckinghamshire in February 2012, the disease has since spread and we continue to find new cases in Devon. For more information, visit the Forestry Commission pages on Ash Dieback.

ash landscape pic

Why are Ash Trees important?

Read the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum advice note on the benefits and economic value of Ash Trees

What can be done?

If we start to take action now, we can help build resilience into our landscape and wildlife. We can also prepare for the major risk to our roads and railways, and to our telephone and electricity cables, created by dead and dying ash trees. Resource needs can be assessed and hopefully met.

The Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum was established in July 2016, led by Devon County Council.  This is looking at a number of issues including:

  • The management of diseased trees in high risk situations
  • Reducing barriers to action
  • Landscape and ecological resilience
  • Communication

The Landscape and Ecological Resilience Group is led by Rob Wolton, Chair of the Devon Hedge Group.  To find out more contact him on

Visit the Devon Hedge Group Facebook page and join the group to see photos from a visit on 13th July 2017 to see infected ash trees near Bickleigh.

The Forum has recently (December 2018) produced Ash Dieback: Key messages and principles for landscape maintenance and restoration, including wildlife and natural capital.

View the key messages from the meeting of the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum, on 26th April 2017.

The Forum is taking forward actions identified in the Devon Ash Dieback Action Plan. A one page summary of key facts, impacts and actions is provided

Key messages from the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum

The Landscape and Ecological Resilience Group, part of Devon’s Ash Dieback Forum, is now promoting the following working principles with regard to replacing trees, particularly outside woodlands.  They are designed to reduce the impact of the disease in our countryside and built-up areas so we retain rich and healthy treescapes:

  • Don’t wait! Start promoting new trees now
  • Encourage the right trees in the right places in the right ways and give them the right aftercare
  • Use the Devon 3/2/1/formula: 3 trees for loss of a large tree, 2 for a medium tree and 1 tree for a small tree

Read further Advice Notes published by the Devon Ash Dieback Forum

How Devon is Leading the Way

Outside heavily affected areas like Kent, Suffolk and Norfolk, Devon is leading the way nationally in the preparation of local action plans to address the threat posed by ash dieback disease. Our plan is being used by The Tree Council, acting on behalf of Defra, to help develop a national framework for the preparation of local plans and their delivery.

Delivery of the Devon action plan will be dependent on many organisations and individuals. It will require an integrated, partnership approach, with resources being pooled and priorities agreed. The plan suggests those organisations, both within and outside Government, that have a key role to play in delivery.

What are your connections with Ash trees?

If you would like to contribute or have any high quality photos that show how Ash trees enrich your local landscape, please email  Photos and other material will be credited if used and will be archived for future reference.

More information