Things are now in place for the contractors to resume working on Tuesday 29th August 2023 to remove ash trees growing along the A346 at the edge of Savernake Forest, which are suffering from chalara ash dieback. Traffic along the A346 will be managed by a single lane closure with two-way traffic signals operating 9.30am - 4.00pm Monday – Friday between Postern Hill and Leigh Hill (Wiltshire Council permit UK66601879988). There may be occasions when lights are double red for a short time to allow safe working. Road users should expect delays on the A346 during operating hours.
All ash trees showing more than 50% crown dieback within a tree length of the public highway will be felled or otherwise made safe e.g. pollarded and left standing. At the same time, we are removing some additional trees because they are growing close to veteran trees. This ‘haloing’ gives the veterans more light and space to remain healthy. The understorey of smaller trees and shrubs within five metres of the road will be coppiced to improve visibility along the road.
You are probably aware that this work falls during the bird nesting season. Felling these trees during the summer months is unavoidable in order to address the safety issue posed by chalara ash dieback next to the highway. Our ecologist has thoroughly surveyed the working area and will continue to be in close contact with the site team to minimise disturbance to wildlife. The challenges of timing forestry operations is explained on our website in this article.
Felling trees is an important part of sustainable forest management and well managed forests support more wildlife. Before we start any forestry work, we carry out thorough ecological surveys to check for species such as birds, mammals, rodents, invertebrates, flora, and fungi. We consider our findings against complex factors including tree health, how the ground slopes, soil condition, and likely rainfall when planning forestry work. Where it is safe, we will leave some standing dead trees to provide insect habitat and perches for birds, and we will leave as much dead wood on site as possible to support Savernake’s important dead wood habitat. Our forestry team will keep all machinery at least five metres away from all veteran trees. While working, we continue to check for wildlife and adapt, pause or suspend work if necessary.
There is more information about this work on our Website.