Wakehurst forced to close 150-acre nature reserve in fight against deadly ash dieback disease - Wakehurst Palace, RGB Kew

10 years since ash dieback was discovered in the UK, Wakehurst will close the 150-acre Loder Valley, the most significant closure in its history, to carry out vital felling work

Experts at Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex, are taking drastic action in the fight against ash dieback, the deadly fungus devastating the British countryside.

10 years since this disease was first discovered in the UK, the gardens near Haywards Heath have been forced to close the Loder Valley Nature Reserve from early December, as the team embarks on a major felling operation.

Diseased trees pose a risk to visitors and Wakehurst experts will be working across the 150-acre haven of wetlands, meadows and woodlands to prevent trees and branches from falling over public paths. Ash dieback is the most significant new tree disease to impact the UK in the last 60 years, and this is the first time Wakehurst has had to close such a considerable stretch of the gardens since opening as Kew’s sister site in 1965.

Ed Ikin, Director of Wakehurst said: “Recent extreme weather such as drought stress has only accelerated ash dieback’s spread. The closure of our nature reserve marks a pivotal moment in our history, as we fight this deadly disease, and serves as a reminder of how the work we undertake at Kew is critical to combat the twin threats of biodiversity loss and climate change.”

In order to understand and prevent this deadly fungus, which is set to kill up to 75% of ash trees in the UK, Wakehurst is bringing together a unique blend of horticulture and science in its 535-acre site. Over the past decade, tree surveys across the site conducted by the experienced Arboretum team have revealed over 90% of ash at Wakehurst had signs of ash dieback, including a reduced canopy, dark lesions in the trunk and blackened leaves.

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Posted On: 16/12/2022

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