Sussex woodland 'looks like a battlefield' after hundreds of trees chopped down due to disease

  • ITV News Meridian's Tom Savvides went along to see the woodland

More than 500 trees have been chopped down at a nature reserve in West Sussex because of disease and decaying conditions.

The Eastern Road Nature Reserve in Lindfield near Haywards Heath now "looks like a battlefield", according to residents, after losing hundreds of its Ash trees.

Almost all Ash trees in the South East are likely to be lost to disease over the next 30 years.

The Woodland Trust says up to 90% will suffer from a devastating fungal disease known as Ash Dieback.

The only way to stop it from spreading is to cut down the affected trees.

A canopy of luscious green has disappeared to reveal an earthy bare ground. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Residents have expressed their horror as the landscape of the wooded area has completely changed.

Dog walker, Tony Steele said: "It's like a battlefield it's absolutely heartbreaking. It was beautiful there were birds as you can hear there's nothing any noises, you can't see any wildlife it's as if they've destroyed it."

Another dog walker, Victoria Donougher said: "I understand that they had to fix the problem and a lot of the trees had the disease and they had to cut it back but it's heartbreaking when you see how desolate it is."

A local resident, Diana Brixey added: "We grew up here a lot of our children played here there were beautiful plants, trees and the wildlife was heaven."

Ash dieback is a serious fungal disease, it was first recorded in 2012. Credit: ITV News Meridian

There is no treatment for Ash dieback which causes an uncontrollable primary infection leading to other diseases that cause trees to decay and fall over.

Vast areas of woodland have already been lost to the disease across Kent, Dorset, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Wiltshire.

At the Eastern Road Nature Reserve, more than 300 Ash have been removed, as well as 200 other species of tree that were found to be weak or damaged due to other conditions.

Independent Cllr Will Blunden said: "It makes me want to cry of sheer devastation. It's been so loved and cherished by all the village and to see it now, it makes you wonder how on earth could anybody allow this to happen?"

Mid Sussex District Council instructed contractors to remove the trees.

A spokesperson for the district council told ITV News Meridian they understand that people are disheartened but they will re-stock the felled areas with multiple native species to further diversify habitats in the woodland.

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