DEADLY tree disease ash dieback is feared to have spread into Swadlincote Woodlands.
Experts are currently awaiting the results of tests after signs of the disease were detected in the area.
If confirmed, the disease could see scores of trees disappear from the 35-acre forest.
It comes after cases were discovered in the National Forest earlier this year.
Ash dieback, also known as Chalara fraxinea, arrived in Britain last year after wiping out millions of ash trees across Europe.
A spokesman for South Derbyshire District Council said: “It is suspected some of the ash trees at the Swadlincote Woodlands are exhibiting possible early signs of dieback.
“Samples have been sent away for analysis and we are awaiting the results to see if this is confirmed or otherwise.
“There is a wide variety of other species planted in the 33 hectares of woodland that will not be affected.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and follow the guidance and procedures set out by the Forestry Commission.”
Bosses at The National Forest have already began preparing for the potential loss of its ash trees, but remain hopeful some may form a ‘natural resistance’.
Matt Brocklehurst, head of forestry at The National Forest Company, said: “Because we plant mixed woodlands the gaps left by the ash trees will be filled through either natural regeneration of other species or adjoining trees growing into the newly created spaces. We are monitoring the trees and are hopeful some trees will show a natural resistance.”
Mr Brocklehurst said it was almost inevitable that ash dieback would arrive in the area, adding, “As the infection is airborne it was likely that it would arrive here.”