23 January 2024

Ash dieback disease – Hatfield Park’s response to the epidemic

Hatfield Park recently hosted an evening to present the estate’s response to this fast-spreading disease which has become widespread across Europe and the UK. Ash dieback (also known as chalara) has had the most impact in the South East where it was first recorded in the UK in 2012.

Ash dieback disease will have a devastating effect on the nation’s ash trees, of which it is predicted to kill up to 80%. The effects of this will be staggering, the landscape will be forever changed and the many different species which rely on ash will be threatened. Hatfield Park and other outlying woodland have not escaped.

Ollie Hauxwell, Rural Estate Manager and Ben Manning, Forestry Consultant hosted a briefing for members of the Old Hatfield community, held in the Old Palace, to discuss the impact of this issue on the Park.

Ben provided an engaging and informative talk on the background to the disease, it’s impact upon our trees and our response following the felling of diseased stock. Hatfield Park’s long-term strategy is to retain any trees that exhibit any signs of resistance to ash dieback, with the hope that these trees will provide healthy seeds and saplings that can withstand the disease for many decades to come.

Meanwhile, badly infected trees must be removed before they die and collapse. We will replace all lost trees by replanting with a greater mixture of broadleaf trees, thus increasing species and age diversity across our woodland.

More about ash dieback

Ash dieback can affect trees of all ages but younger trees will be affected more quickly. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Leaves showing dark patches in the summer months
  • Leaves wilting, turning black and shedding
  • Dieback of leaves and shoots, visible in the summer
  • Some trees are able to fight the disease to an extent, however year on year infections will eventually kill it

A briefing note will soon be available here.

References: The Woodland Trust – Ash Dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) – Woodland Trust

Ash dieback disease – Hatfield Park’s response to the epidemic - Hatfield Park