CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council is actively looking for areas where new trees can be planted to help make up for the loss of trees that are being affected by ash dieback disease.
Ash dieback is a fungal disease which is having a devastating effect on ash trees across the UK – it is thought around 95% of ash trees could die from the disease.
The council is currently having to remove affected trees for which it is responsible along A and B roads throughout the county as the trees are at risk of falling posing a serious risk to the public. Other landowners are also having to take similar action.
As a result, the council is now identifying areas in the county where new woodlands can be created. As well as helping to make up for the loss of ash trees, these will bring a number of other benefits. These new woodlands will, in time, absorb carbon dioxide, improve air quality and soil structure and support biodiversity by providing new wildlife habitats.
It is also part of the council’s climate change action plan which details how it will cut its carbon footprint and become net zero carbon by 2030.
The council has just finished planting 77 new trees at St David’s Park in Carmarthen. It includes a mixture of pine, lime, cherry, sweet chestnut, birch and oak on the south side of the site reflecting the Victorian planting that was characteristic of that area, and an avenue of oak trees leading down to Hafan Derwen.
Executive Board Member for Biodiversity Cllr Philip Hughes said: “It is thought around 95% of ash trees could be affected by ash dieback disease and this will have a big impact in the landscape. To mitigate for this loss , we are identifying opportunities for planting trees and new woodlands which will also bring additional benefits such as new wildlife habitats and carbon-sequestration.
“The new planting that has just been carried out at St David’s Park will help to ensure that future generations will continue to enjoy the magnificent treescape associated with this site. It is now our job to look after them and ensure they become well-established.
“The lime, pine and chestnut trees that were part of the original planting at the park in the late 19th century are now beginning to reach maturity, and we need to continue to plant more trees in this area if we are to safeguard the quality of this landscape.
“It is increasingly difficult to integrate the planting of large trees into urban areas, but St David’s provides the perfect opportunity.
“We are also looking for new sites; we would want to ensure that the land doesn’t have an existing biodiversity value of its own and we are also looking for areas where there is public access so that these places can be enjoyed by people. If we find land that is suitable for planting, we can progress an application to Welsh Government for a woodland creation grant.
“We have four sites that we are actively progressing at the moment and this is an area where we will be doing more work in the future.”
The planting at St David’s Park has been carried out with help from a Welsh Government funded Enabling Natural Resources grant.