The ash tree is the most common tree in the Kent Downs. In 2012 when ash dieback, (caused by the fungal pathogen Hymenoscyphus fraxineus), was first discovered in England, the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was one of the first areas to notice the rapid spread of the disease. The Ash Project is an urgent cultural response to this devastating loss of one of our most important species of tree.
Ash dieback is widely accepted to be untreatable and could see the demise of 90-98% of these trees over the next decade. The scale of the ecological impact caused by the disease is as yet unmeasured. Ash trees provide valuable ecological flood defence and contribute to air quality. Almost 1000 species use ash trees as habitat, food and life support.
The Ash Project asks how we might mark and celebrate ash trees before it is too late. The project combines a major new commission by internationally recognised artists Ackroyd & Harvey with a wide ranging walks, talks and workshops programme, an online archive and a Kent wide plan for landscape restoration. We are collaborating across conservation and scientific research work to develop a cultural approach that will preserve memories of the tree in extraordinary and enduring ways for the generations who will live with the loss.
The project was generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Kent County Council. It was commissioned by the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With additional funding from Woodland Trust and North Downs Way.
The Ash Project was supported by an active partnership with the following organisations.