Advice on 'ash dieback' for woodland walkers

Walking in woodland

Following concerns about the spread of ‘ash dieback’ in British trees we’re issuing advice to walkers heading for the woods this autumn.

Chalara dieback of ash – known as ‘ash dieback’ – is a disease caused by the Chalara fraxinea fungus which affects ash trees and can lead to tree death. It was unknown in Britain until earlier this year when the first cases were traced back to ash plants imported from the Netherlands.

The Foresty Commission has advised that public access to forest and woodland areas doesn’t pose a signficicant risk to the spread of ash dieback which it is believed may be spread by rain splash, by insects or through the movement of diseased plants or logs.

Walkers should however follow information on official signs in infected areas to avoid accidentally spreading the disease. Woodland walkers can act as an extra set of eyes, looking out for and reporting any trees which they suspect may be infected to the Forestry Commission.

What do if out walking this autumn:

  • Follow information and advice on any official signs – such as disinfecting boots
  • Learn how to spot signs of the disease – guidance can be found at
  • Look out for signs on ash trees where you are walking
  • Report any suspected cases to the Forestry Commission immediately – contact details can be found at

“The tragic news about ash dieback reaching Britain need not stop people from enjoying a woodland walk this autumn” said Ramblers Senior Policy Officer Justin Cooke. “Walkers, who often know their local woodland well, can play an important role in identifying trees which they suspect might be infected and reporting them to the Forestry Commission.”