• Cranborne Chase AONB Office, Rushmore Farm, Tinkley Bottom, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire, SP5 5QA  Tel: 01725 517417


Sep 10, 2017

Six-day event is only conference of its kind in the UK this year


AshTHE beautiful ash tree, which has proved so vital to human society down the ages, could soon disappear from the British Isles altogether due to Chalara, ash dieback disease. Large swathes of ash trees have already been decimated in the east of the country.

Before the south west suffers the same fate, Fontmell Magna-based Springhead Trust, the rural centre for creative and sustainable living, is running a six-day celebration of the ash in Dorset and Wiltshire, including on Cranborne Chase AONB. It will be the only conference of its kind in the UK this year. The Springhead AshScape Project, organised in collaboration with Cranborne AONB, the Ancient Tree Forum and the Woodland Trust, is being partly funded through the AONB’s Sustainable Development Fund.

The project will run between 10-15 October 2017. It commences with an ash themed photographic and art exhibition (Tuesday 10 October), with a two-day conference taking place on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 October. Speakers will include Rob Wolton, chair of the Devon Ash Dieback Forum, Tim Rowlands from Future Forest, who will discuss the Defra-funded Living Ash Project and the Springhead Trust’s director Edward Parker, who will discuss ash tree uses and myths through history.

The proceedings conclude with three musical processional events (Sunday 15 October) and the chance to don headphones and listen to the internal workings of a live ash tree.

Additionally, there will be a field trip to view ash trees at Lyscombe and Highdon SSSI in Dorset AONB and the opportunity to take part in an innovative tree recording project using a single iPhone in Cranborne Chase AONB. This project will continue after the events at Springhead.

“During our celebration we will be looking at what will replace the ash tree and what choices we have when managing ash woodlands, among myriad other things. It’s a complex picture, which is why we need to come together to discuss what will happen,” said Edward Parker, an authority on trees who has also written several books. “The human race’s relationship with the ash goes back at least to Ancient Greece and its uses in transport, farming and medicine are well documented. We want to take a very close look at this tree before it is too late.”

For more information on the Springhead AshScape Project, see www.springheadtrust.org.uk.