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National Plant Health Week (6 – 12 May 2024)

By Toni, 07th May 2024

National Plant Health Week is an annual designated week of action to raise public awareness and engagement on how to keep the UK’s plants healthy.

There’s no surprise that ash dieback (Chalara Fraxinea), a fungal disease sweeping across Britain, has made a huge impact in our woodlands at Bryngarw. It has already killed more than 75% of our ash trees.  

In 2023 we took positive action and selectively felled or monolithed our diseased ash trees creating incredible woodland glades. The woodland floor and understory had been dominated by bramble and the highly invasive Himalayan balsam. 

We are now managing the woodland specifically to enhance biodiversity and biosecurity. 

With the help of our amazing volunteers, we are hand pulling huge swathes of Balsam, being careful not to kill any native wildflowers. We are also scalloping the edges of the glades where bramble is dominant and creating dead hedges and habitat piles.

This ground clearance, along with opening up the canopy, will let more sunlight in and encourage the native flora to flourish, and in turn increase the diversity of species within the woodland. The bluebells and red campion have already felt the benefits of this new management.

We are also planting a plethora of native tree species. This will diversify the age range of the woodland and enhance the biodiversity and biosecurity of the wood by increasing the variety of species within the woodland. These acts will ‘future proof’ our woodland from being completely wiped out by a fungal disease such as ash dieback.

A diverse woodland is a healthier, stronger, and more resilient woodland.

We encourage anyone who spots the sign of disease or an unhealthy plant/tree in Bryngarw, to inform the Ranger team.

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