Weston schools fight back against tree disease

Ash dieback: Weston schools fight tree disease

Several primary schools across Weston have planted thousands of tree saplings to combat the decline in trees brought about by Ash dieback disease. - Credit: Laura Elmont

A multi-academy trust has announced it has been working alongside the Woodland Trust to stop the number of trees in its Weston schools from dropping due to disease.

Extend Learning Academies Network (ELAN) is made up of eight primary schools across Weston and Worle - seven of which have had to fell trees because of the ash dieback disease.

Ash dieback, as the name suggests, targets ash trees in the UK and is not native to the country, therefore UK trees have not built a natural defence against it.

Thousands of trees planted in Weston schools because of disease.

Locking Primary School has began to plant saplings to increase its tree population. - Credit: Laura Elmont

A spokesman for ELAN confirmed its schools have replanted thousands of saplings to keep its tree population alive.

They said: "We keep a close eye on the health of all our trees and wooded areas in and around our school sites, tracking the subtle changes brought about by ash dieback.

"We aim to retain as many potentially tolerant ash trees as possible, letting nature take its course by allowing diseased trees to decline naturally when it is safe to do so."

ELAN consists of Bournville, Locking, Oldmixon, Mead Vale, Mendip Green, Milton Park, Walliscote and Windwhistle primary schools.

Views of Oldmixon Primary School. Weston.

Oldmixon Primary School has felt the impact of the disease on its trees. - Credit: Archant

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The trust spokesman added: "When trees are removed, we replant. The cost of more established specimens limits the amount of larger trees we can plant, but, with the help of the Woodland Trust, we have put in over a thousand saplings in the last two years across the estate.

"Trees have been carefully chosen for their longevity and ability to thrive in our local semi-coastal climate."

The Woodland Trust has estimated that 80 per cent of ash trees in the UK will be lost to ash dieback, costing billions of pounds.

Ash Dieback

Ash dieback is expected to reduce the UK's Ash tree population by 80 per cent. - Credit: BET

The effects of the disease are visible during the summer months and residents may begin to notice trees bearing dark patches and the onset of dieback.

Other tell-tale signs include the inner bark of the tree turning a brownish-grey colour under diamond-shaped lesions where the branches meet the trunk.

North Somerset Council plans to introduce an ash dieback action plan by Autumn of this year.