Bolton's ash trees are under threat from a devastating fungal disease - and the council may have no choice but to remove trees which have become infected.
Ash dieback first appeared in the UK back in 2012 and infected trees in Bolton have already had to be cut down, including 23 mature trees in the grounds of Bolton Parish Church.
The council is having to remove a further 27 diseased, damaged or dead trees in Farnworth, most of which are ash.
The council carries our regular inspections of trees on the borough's highways, as well as parks and other council-owned land. Surveys to look for evidence of dead, damaged or diseased trees are also carried out in Bolton's woodlands.
The council is responsible for the removal of trees on its land, while the responsibility falls with private landowners in other instances.
Approximately 13 per cent of Bolton's trees are ash, and across Britain it's feared the infection could lead to the loss of up to 80 per cent of our native ash. Mostly found in woodland, ash trees are also a prominent feature in parks, and alongside highways.
Cllr Adele Warren Bolton Council Executive Cabinet Member for Environmental Services Delivery said: "We are seeing worrying signs that this deadly infection is slowly moving north and westwards in the UK and affecting our native ash trees. No one wants to see trees cut down, but where diseased, damaged or dead trees are posing a risk to the public we have to act.
"As the trees come into leaf in spring we are concerned we will see more signs of infection.”
"If an ash tree has become infected it could run the risk of shedding large branches or even falling over. The council is a major landowner in Bolton and we have to do everything we can to make sure the trees we are responsible for are not posing a risk to people or property.
"Taking out mature trees is not something we do lightly and it also comes at a great financial cost to the council. But safety has to come first as well as infection control measures to try to prevent the spread of the disease."
The council is planning an extensive tree planting programme across Bolton over the next decade - partly driven by our commitment to cutting carbon emissions and tackling climate change.
In December, the council announced a partnership with local environmental charity City of Trees to plant 8,000 trees across Bolton this winter. Sites for the planting have been identified across Bolton covering more than 7 hectares - and as well as the environmental benefits it's also hoped the tree planting will improve local green spaces.
Future survey work in the coming years will continue to monitor the extent of ash dieback on Bolton Council land.
Private owners of mature trees of all species are advised to have them inspected regularly by a qualified professional and further information about the management of trees with ash dieback disease can be found on the Tree Council website at treecouncil.org.uk/science-and-research/ash-dieback/public-guidance