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Replacement of Ash Trees and Habitat Recovery

Replacement trees

Act Now! Where ash trees are present, it is suggested that landowners act now where space allows. If planting is undertaken at the earliest opportunity to replace ash as they decline then we have a stronger chance of preserving the beauty and biodiversity of our landscape. 

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You should not seek to replace lost ash trees by replanting with ash. DEFRA has stated that ash is not considered a sustainable planting choice for replacement trees. This is due to the continuing presence of the disease. It is strongly advised that other species should be chosen which are suitable to the planting site.

The type of tree you choose will be dependant on where you live and the space that you have.

Native tree species should be the first choice as these will help to replace lost habitat and support local animals and plants. The Woodland Trust have a guide to native tree species. Beneficial native species include

  • oak
  • beech
  • alder
  • birch
  • sycamore
  • field maple
  • rowan
  • blackthorn
  • hawthorn

If you live in an urban environment or are replacing trees in a more formal space, the Royal Horticultural Society have produced a very useful guide to non-native and 'exotic' trees. These may be more appropriate in terms of mature size and habit.

In order to replace the lost canopy the recommended replacement rates are:

  • three saplings for a large tree
  • two saplings for a medium tree
  • one for a small tree

Rather than (or in addition to) new planting you could consider natural regeneration from the seedbank already present in the soil. Alternatively you can 'recruit' existing saplings to replace lost trees. 

The Forestry Commission and Forest Research are working together with other organisations to develop resistant ash trees. It is hoped these will form the ash population of the future.

Further information regarding the effect of ash dieback on nature as a whole, and what you can do to help reduce the impact can be found on the Forest Research website.