Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is preparing for the threat of ash dieback at its Lower Woods Nature Reserve, thanks to a £20,000 donation from Grundon.
Lower Woods, near Wickwar, is one of the largest ancient woodlands in the South West of England. The nature reserve covers 281 hectares and ash trees account for 70 per cent of the wood’s tree canopy.
But with ash die back, caused by fungus, threatening to wipe out one of our most common native trees, the loss of ash trees will have a pronounced effect on the countryside and on biodiversity: 12 species of bird, 55 mammals and 239 invertebrates are associated with ash woodland.
Thanks to the Grundon donation, volunteers are now able to grow replacement trees at the new tree nursery at Lower Woods nature reserve. Oak tree saplings are being grown from acorns collected in the woods. When the saplings are around 48 months old, they will be planted in the woods to help fill the gaps in woodland canopies resulting from ash tree losses.
Other species of trees will also be planted, including hazel, hornbeam, beech and walnut.
Dr Gareth Parry, Director of Conservation at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, said: “While we hold out hope that a solution can be found to save our ash trees we have to prepare for the worst and ensure that there is a long-term future for our ancient woodlands. This project not only helps to build resilience to the impact of ash die back but also for the predicted consequences of climate change, which may reduce the ability of some native species to persist.”
Anthony Foxlee-Brown, Head of Marketing and Communications at Grundon Waste Management, said: “Ash die back could be devastation for our finely balanced woodland biodiversity. That’s why Grundon felt strongly that we should support this initiative.”
Lower Woods Nature Reserve is owned by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and managed in conjunction with Avon Wildlife Trust. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is a charity which manages a number of nature reserves around the county and inspires people to engage with the county’s outdoor places.