Trees on some Folkestone roads were being cut down – and local people are angry, saying it is a disgrace, and asking why the council would cut down perfectly healthy trees. Others suggested that once the trees were cut down they would not be replaced leaving just an ugly stump for years to come. One local resident said; “This is disgraceful – leave the tree alone, there is nothing wrong with it – it looks perfectly green and healthy”.

When the district council were approached about this – two things became clear; first – the trees in Harbour Ward and other places are being cut down because they have Ash dieback, and second – it is Kent County council who are responsible for pavements, and trees in the pavement.

The offending trees have a tree canker, we know it as Ash dieback – and they may look healthy but Dieback is caused by fungi carrying bacteria and just a few bacteria-producing cankers will wilt and rot stems and roots if left. The bacteria easily infect other trees close by – so if the diseased tree is left it could affect others trees too which would also be lost. There is also the danger it presents to people walking close by if a diseased tree suddenly drops a branch.

The Woodland Trust says that “Ash dieback will kill around 80% of ash trees across the UK. It will change the landscape forever and threaten many species which rely on Ash”.

What does Ash dieback look like – it can affect Ash trees of all ages. Younger trees succumb to the disease quicker but in general, all affected trees will have these symptoms:

  • Leaves develop dark patches in the summer.
  • They then wilt and discolour to black. Leaves might shed early.
  • Dieback of the shoots and leaves is visible in the summer.
  • Lesions develop where branches meet the trunk. These are often diamond-shaped and dark brown.
  • Inner bark looks brownish-grey under the lesions.
  • New growth from previously dormant buds further down the trunk. This is known as epicormic growth and is a common response to stress in trees.

“The fungus overwinters in leaf litter on the ground, particularly on ash leaf stalks. It produces small white fruiting bodies between July and October which release spores into the surrounding atmosphere. These spores can blow tens of miles away. They land on leaves, stick to and then penetrate into the leaf and beyond. The fungus then grows inside the tree, eventually blocking its water transport systems, causing it to die”.