Ash tree disease prompts reaction

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LECTURERS at Northumberland College are responding to flooding and the ash dieback tree disease by tailoring courses to ensure the future workforce have the skills to deal with the issues.

The native British ash tree species is currently under a serious threat from the Polish tree disease, which rots the trees.

David Wear, programme area leader for plants and environment at the Kirkley Hall campus, said: “Our lecturing teams are constantly adapting courses to cover current environmental issues in the land-based sector, such as ash dieback, to ensure that students have current knowledge and experience needed to enter employment.

“We are looking out for the disease, but have not as yet found any confirmed cases at the Kirkley Hall estate.

“Most trees have lost their leaves now and no new cases, unless well advanced, will be evident until the spring.”

Countryside management students are currently undertaking a hedgerow survey of the estate to assess the implications ash dieback could have on hedgerow wildlife,including the tree sparrow.

As part of their course, agriculture students study soil management, which is of importance for good crop production and drainage – a key element in responding to wet weather.

Northumberland College offers a range of arboriculture and agriculture courses as well as apprenticeships at Levels 2 and 3.

Arboriculture courses cover all aspects of tree care including the identification of diseases, production, establishment and management of trees.

An open event will be held at the Kirkley Hall campus on Wednesday, January 16, from 4.30pm until 7pm. For more information about courses, visit