A seven-acre section of woodland near Bickleigh belonging to farmer John Greenslade has been decimated by the disease, and a major programme to uproot and destroy affected trees is under way.

Mr Greenslade began planting Byway Woods 20 years ago and has won awards for it.

Thousands of mature, native ash trees are being dug up and burned after the devastating disease ash dieback was confirmed in Devon.

About 2,000 trees at Byway Farm near Tiverton are affected, according to the Forestry Commission.

This is the first confirmed case of the disease in mature, native trees in the region – another nine cases have been confirmed in young trees that have been recently planted at sites across Devon and Cornwall, including two sites on Dartmoor National Park, according to Forestry Commission figures.

Ben Jones, of the commission’s England plant protection team, said: “It appears that the affected trees had the disease when they were planted in 1996-97. It is concerning and we are continuing our investigations into how the spread had taken place and how far it has spread.”


The Norwegians tried burning infected copses – as we have done in Leitrim, Galway, Meath and Monaghan – to no effect.

“We can’t see any point burning the trees, and you can’t burn the air,” Ditte Olrik, a biologist with the Danish Nature Agency, said.

Crash of the Ash – but this new invader is not the only one we have to fight

The disease of ash trees which is caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea, was identified in young ash saplings at five sites in counties Down and Antrim. The plants, all linked to continental imports, showed symptoms of the disease and after samples were sent for laboratory analysis results proved positive.

Statutory notices has been served on the owners of the plantations requiring destruction of around 5,000 affected ash saplings and associated plant debris.


The destruction of ash saplings found to be contaminated with the fungus responsible for ash dieback disease has been “soul-destroying”, the custodian of a West Yorkshire tree plantation has admitted.

About 1,700 ash tree saplings have been burned at Farnley Tyas, near Huddersfield, in an effort to stop the spread of the disease, and will cost thousands of pounds to replace.