TREES at a popular beauty spot will have to be cut back or felled after becoming infected with deadly disease.

Work begins this week at the Knapp and Papermill nature reserve on trees infected with ash dieback.

The work is likely to take three weeks and all paths will remain open though the picnic area will be shut during part of the work.

Dominique Cragg, reserves officer responsible for the management of the nature reserve, said: “Ash dieback arrived in Worcestershire a few years ago and is now here to stay.

"We take it seriously but don’t wish to eliminate all ash trees from our nature reserves as we’re hoping to find ones that are resistant to the disease.

“Away from footpaths and roads, we intend to leave ash trees to stand as deadwood, an important habitat for wildlife.

"Where they are a potential hazard, however, we have to take action.

"Even with regular safety inspections, the disease can cause an infected tree to unexpectedly lose a limb or fall over.

“We are currently working at The Knapp and Papermill nature reserve for the next three weeks to undertake some of this felling work.

"Where possible we will reduce the height of some trees rather than remove them entirely and we’ll also be creating habitat piles with felled timber and chipping some of it to use as mulch around newly planted fruit trees in the orchard.”

Trees infected with ash dieback pose a safety risk at the beauty spot near Alfrick as the wood turns brittle and starts to break from the inside.

Any ash trees that are close to paths or public access areas are being closely monitored and will be managed if they show signs of significant infection.

Walkers are asked to speak with contractors if they are unsure whether they can walk through an area or not.

Any ash trees growing away from the high risk area will be left untouched.

This will most likely require felling the whole tree but Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, which manages the site, said they also hoped to leave the main trunk standing and given a special treatment to 'veteranise' it.

Features such as rot holes and cracks seen on older trees will be created to encourage wildlife.

Habitat piles will also be created with the felled timber and chippings will be used to create mulch for newly planted fruit trees in the orchard.