POTENTIAL sightings of ash dieback disease in and around Malvern are being investigated.

While there remain no confirmed cases of the devastating chalara fraxinea infection in the county, three suspected sightings have been reported to Malvern Hills Conservators, who have passed them on to the Forestry Commission.

One suspected case is in an ash wood on Conservators land near British Camp.

The others are nearer the centre of Malvern, and at Poolbrook.

The ash dieback outbreak has already been confirmed in Warwickshire and Shropshire and the Forestry Commission is working seven days a week investigating suspected sightings across the country.

There are estimated to be at least two million ash trees in Worcestershire and experts from Worcestershire Wildlife Trust have warned it is “inevitable” the disease will arrive at some point and that it could potentially wipe out thousands of trees.

Jenny Palmer, deputy conservation officer at Malvern Hills Conservators, said field staff and volunteer wardens are on constant lookout for cases but that all investigations are being handled through the official Forestry Commission process.

“We anticipate many more calls and enquiries in the forthcoming days and weeks,” she said.

“Unfortunately we do not have the resources or in-house expertise to investigate suspected cases as such we ask that members of the public report any suspected cases of ash dieback to the Forestry Commission.”

She said she believed it “unlikely” that the suspected sightings would prove to be genuine cases, adding that it is very difficult to tell whether or not trees are infected as it the time of year when they are already dropping their leaves.

"Worcestershire Wildlife Trust says it has not had any suspected sightings on its land but remains “extremely vigilant”.

Anyone who suspects a case of ash disease should check guidelines on the Forestry Commission website before calling 08459 335577 or e-mailing plant.health@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

Anyone reporting sightings on Conservators land is asked to copy in jennifer@malvernhills.org.uk when reporting.