I was pleased to be able to join a large crowd at the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight to learn about what the AONB team and partners had undertaken over the last year and what the future held. Good to learn about the Dark Skies initiative for the south west of the Island and that that, fingers crossed, the whole of Isle of Wight might become a Biosphere Reserve – we will know in June later this year.
However, what really shocked me during the day was on the afternoon walk to look at a river restoration project funded by the East Wight Landscape Partnership Scheme. Just by chance as we walked past a field corner planted with a mix of natives trees were a number of Ash trees. Here was shown an example of Ash Die Back Disease with the characteristic lightening and lesions on the bark and the fact that the trees become very brittle when they succumb to the disease.
Yes, I knew about Ash Die Back and that it had reached the Isle of Wight, but what really hit home yesterday was the extent that it will affect our landscape. A landscape with out Ash is hard to visualise. Just think of the prominent field and hedgerow trees and how Ash is often a large component of our woods. It is a landscape we will no doubt have to get used to over the decades to come but it was a sad moment in what was otherwise an enthusiastic day conversing about landscapes.