Managing woodlands with ash dieback and bats - current guidance and information
Ash dieback is a disease caused by the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineu which leads to loss of leaf, crown dieback, shedding of limbs and in some cases the eventual death of the affected tree. It is common knowledge that ash trees are of importance to biodiversity and wildlife including their potential for providing roosts for bats.
Since it was first reported back in 2012, the disease has become a significant threat to one of UK's native broadleaf native trees and as it is a species of tree that is found in many woodlands in Britain, there are concerns on how to manage ash dieback and how this will affect the conservation of flora and fauna, including bats, when dealing with concerns over public safety.
Recent felling of infected ash trees in woodlands that are used by bats has highlighted the need to have all the current guidance and information under one page on the BCT website. Within this page you will find various documents from guidance on managing woodlands with bats in England, to managing ash in woodlands in light of ash dieback. We hope that this will help you gain a better understanding of best practice when managing a woodland with bats in mind but also update you on the current status from Forestry Commission on how to manage ash dieback.
Please note that the guidance and information available should be used in conjunction with wider guidance on forestry, woodland management and woodland surveying and each case will be assessed on a site by site basis by Forestry Commission and if necessary Natural England.
When thinking of managing woodlands with ash dieback do plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to adapt your Woodland Management plan accordingly. Follow best practice and keep records of all your decisions.
Guidance on managing woodlands with bats in England (Version 3)
document provides best practice guidance for routine and on-going forestry and woodland operations and
good practice is the landowner/manager/operator responsibility and it is advised
that a record of each decision, the steps taken and the information used is kept to show good practice has been followed. An EPS checklist provided by Forestry Commission can be downloaded below and further information on managing and protecting our woodland wildlife can be found here on the GOV.UK website. The guidance documents for England, Wales and Scotland can be downloaded by clicking the links below.
Managing ash in woodlands or individual and small groups of ash trees in light of ash dieback: operations note 46a
This Forestry Commission document will provide practical advice to anybody with the responsibility for the management of ash in woodlands. Links to various documents can be found within this document.
This Forestry Commission document will provide practical advice to anybody with the responsibility for the management of individual and small groups of ash trees that are likely to be infected by ash dieback. Links to various document can be found in this document.
The British Standard for surveying bats in trees and woodlands
"Involved in the management of woodland or the maintenance of trees? If you are, you should be aware that bats and their roosts are legally protected and consider how this affects your operations"
The standard BS 8596 provides a "one place guidance on all aspects of the surveying process, for all audiences. It covers operations ranging from the management of individual garden trees, through the loss of woodlands as a result of development, to ongoing forestry management and guides you through the appropriate steps to prevent the disturbance of bats or damage and destruction of roosts"
A free micro guide aimed at non-specialists can be downloaded by clicking the link below.
Bats and Arboriculture training
Basic bat awareness training will help you to understand how trees can provide a wide range of potential roosts for bats. Understanding how bats use trees, the best time of year for tree works and the legal responsibilities around these protected species can be invaluable for anyone working with trees: arborists, tree surgeons, woodland or estate managers, etc.
BCT runs Bats and Arboriculture training that are in line with the British Standard 8596: Surveying for bats in woodland and can be arranged as in-house courses on request.
Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum Advice Note - A guide to protecting species and habitats (from the Tree Council Ash Dieback Toolkit)
BCT’s recommendations on managing trees affected by ash dieback along highways, roads and woodland rights of way
These recommendations were written for the Tree Council Ash dieback toolkit - link can be found in the further relevant information section below. However, the recommendations on their own can be downloaded by clicking the link below.
Ash tree remains part of Norfolk landscape despite fatal fungus
A recent news article by BBC News highlights the importance of leaving diseased ash trees alone where possible, as some will survive which we will need to re-populate our woodlands.
Felling licence proposals
BCT does not have the resources to get involved in individual cases or monitor on the ground. If a felling licence proposal has been submitted which you are concerned about, there is a period of time (28 days from the day of submission) when you will be able to submit any formal comments to the Forestry Commission area team. The Guidance on the Consultation and the public registers has more information on how you can submit your comments to the Forestry Commission before they make a decision on whether to approve a felling licence application.
Details of all felling proposals submitted, other than those for thinning can be found on the FC Register of Grant Schemes and Felling.