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The Welsh landscape is changing, and in some cases not for the better.

So, the Long Forest app has been launched by Keep Wales Tidy, in partnership with the Woodland Trust, to capture it before it is too late.

One of their urgent environmental concerns is the spread of such diseases as ash dieback, or, to give it its official name, hymenoscyphus fraxineus.

It is threatening to kill up to 98% of ash trees across the UK, a devastation that will cost billions, changing the landscape forever and threatening many species which rely on ash.

But those with a countryside brief want the public to play their part in gathering vital information about the trees under threat through the new app.

That will back up the Long Forest project work which has been going on over the last three years to plant 100,000 trees and improve 120,000 metres of hedgerows in Wales.

Long Forest Project
Putting the effort in for the sake of the countryside - Long Forest volunteers

Eryl Roberts, Wales estate manager at the Woodland Trust, said: "Generally, we can say that the disease is now widespread throughout Wales, and we have examples of it affecting young ash in many of our woodland creation sites. There is no remedy for the disease and its potential for decimating ash-dominated woods and for changing the landscape of the wider countryside, where ash is often a dominant hedgerow tree, is a huge concern."

Long Forest coordinator Hannah Wilcox Brooke added: "It is so important that we take action now to record the condition of our hedgerows in Wales. We have developed the first easy to use surveying hedgerow app that members of the general public can use. It only takes 10 minutes to complete a stretch of hedgerow and can help us determine how our landscape in Wales is changing.”

Why it is important to act  

Long Forest landowners training
Landowners get to grips with the challenge of making the environment that little better

Ash trees are the third most abundant tree in the UK. In 10 years, it is estimated that between 90 to 98% of all ash trees will disappear. This could leave massive gaps in:

  • Hedgerows
  • On farms
  • In the woodland canopy - the layer of leaves and branches formed by a large tree
  • All urban areas

It will mean a lost habitat for many birds, insects and wildlife as mature ash trees can support up to 500 different lichens, which are composite organisms.

Getting as many people as possible involved

Long Forest project volunteers in Carew, Pembrokeshire
Long Forest project volunteers at Carew, Pembrokeshire, take a breather

That is a key component of many a campaign, getting a wide enough appeal to make a positive impact.

The project has targeted certain groups already, like landowners, farm managers and walking groups, people who naturally use the locations under the spotlight.     

But what about the general population? Surveying hedgerows may seem like a niche occupation, one that the masses may never have thought of ticking off on their list of country pursuits.

But, doing some good always makes you feel a little better about yourself. There is also a new skill to pick up, and, of course, everyone benefits from a bit of country air from time to time.      

#Do1thing logo

The people of Wales are all facing the critical issue of climate change, and we want to do something about it.

WalesOnline is asking you, our loyal readers, to #Do1Thing to help the environment this year.

We don’t expect you to make colossal changes to your life, but we have created a special section on WalesOnline, which features interesting and important stories about local issues and climate heroes to inspire you to make a difference.

Want to get involved? Share your efforts with the hashtag #Do1Thing on Twitter or Facebook. Alternatively, if you have a fantastic story you want to share about how you’re saving the planet, give us a message on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Long Forest Project volunteers in Anglesey enjoy the sunset after a hard day's work
Long Forest Project volunteers in Anglesey enjoy the sunset after a hard day's work

Ash die back is not going away, so join the campaign today and start surveying using the Long Forest app. If you would like to get involved with the Long Forest project, maybe as part of an education day or community group event, visit www.longforest.cymru for more information.


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