A major tree felling programme is underway on and near Salisbury Plain.

Around 14,000 trees will get the chop over the next three years.

Ministry of Defence officials are also warning of possible traffic disruption as the felling takes place. It says the move is vital in order to save uninfected trees from Ash Dieback,

The fungal disease affecting ash trees across the country, has infected many of the woodlands on the Salisbury Plain Training Area. There is no cure or treatment for the disease and over time infected trees will weaken, causing branches to fall and trees to eventually collapse and die.

Jeremy Kalkowski, MOD’s Senior Forester, said:

“Where possible, we will use this as an opportunity to enrich and improve our woodland resource.

“We are felling the minimum number of trees to reduce risk to an acceptable level and only in areas where there is a clear risk of harm to people.

“The MOD takes conservation very seriously and we are committed to completing a replanting scheme to replace felled ash trees with a range of native species trees.”

Chris Sorensen, South West Woodland Resilience Officer, from the Forestry Commission said:

‘’Since ash dieback was identified in 2012, we have been working with a range of stakeholders and have invested more than £37million into tree health research, including funding research into the biology and pathology of the disease.

“We encourage all owners of woodland to think strategically about the management of their ash trees and adopt best practice to help reduce the impact of the disease.”

Judith Peachey, Landmarc’s Forestry Harvesting and Marketing and Arboriculture Advisor said:

“Sadly, the felling of trees with Ash Dieback is a necessary step to protect the public and all other training estate users. We would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank our local communities for their support by adhering to any site safety signs and not entering any areas where forestry work is taking place.”

The work should be completed in approximately three years. The first phase will target Ashdown Copse and along the A345, and will run until the end of March 2020, when work will stop to protect nesting birds.

Phase two will begin in September 2020 to continue work at Ashdown Copse, as well as Erlestoke, Everleigh, Heytesbury, Warminster and along neighbouring roadsides.