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.

Key message:

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)

Guidance on managing woodlands with bats in England (Version 3)

This document provides best practice guidance for routine and on-going forestry and woodland operations and activities. Following 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 in light of ash dieback: operations note 46

Managing ash in woodlands in light of ash dieback: operations note 46

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.

The British Standard for surveying bats in trees and woodlands

The British Standard for surveying bats in trees and woodlands

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". A free micro guide aimed at non-specialists can be downloaded by clicking the link below.

BCT’s recommendations on managing trees affected by ash dieback along highways, roads and woodland rights of way

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.

Felling licence proposals

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.

Further relevant information

Next: Woodland Wildlife Toolkit