Effort to slow tree disease moves to new Trossachs forests
Forestry and Land Scotland is advising that access restrictions and diversions will be in place at several locations across the Trossachs as work begins to tackle forests affected by tree disease, Phytophthora ramorum, which attacks larch trees.
The work – which has already started at Loch Ard and is scheduled for Braeval and Balmaha from mid-January until March – will involve some diversions to the West Highland Way and Rob Roy Way.
FLS’s Central Region team drew up long-term emergency plans two years ago to deal with the substantial spread of the disease after 120 potential infection sites were identified - with 80 of them being in the Cowal & Trossachs area.
Control orders (Statutory Plant Health Notices) continue to be served on FLS by forestry regulator, Scottish Forestrry, requiring that diseased trees are felled in order to slow the spread of the disease to new sites.
Nik Cox, for the FLS team in Cowal, said;
“This disease has impacted on our forests in a big way and it is placing significant demands on our resources. Fitting the work to deal with the disease in with what would have been our normal work plan is also a challenge our planning and delivery teams.
“It continues to be a long haul and the additional felling is having a substantial impact on some well-loved landscapes but its urgent work that we have to do if we are to slow the spread of the disease to other sites where larch is present.
“Unfortunately, the disease is totally indiscriminate and is found in out-of-the-way locations as well as in forests that are popular with visitors.
“Carrying out the work means that some sites will have to close for public safety. We appreciate that this might cause some inconvenience for local people and visitors but we would urge everyone to observe the on-site safety signage."
The ongoing work to remove infected Larch trees sometimes includes the construction of new forest roads and harvesting facilities, as well as the upgrading of existing forest roads.
Visitors are also reminded that they can play their part in helping to protect as yet unaffected forests.
“We would also ask that the public help to control the rate of spread by following our ‘Keep it Clean’ advice. The spores that cause this disease can be carried to unaffected sites in mud and forest debris – so please take a few minutes to brush or wipe off boots, bike wheels, tent pegs and even your dog’s paws before and after a visit to any woodland in the area.
“Everyone working together to adopt new habits will have a positive impact on our forests, help to slow the spread of tree pests and diseases and buy the time to research and develop other actions that we can take to ensure the long term health of our woodlands.”
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Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) manages forests and land owned by Scottish Ministers in a way that supports and enables economically sustainable forestry; conserves and enhances the environment; delivers benefits for people and nature; and supports Scottish Ministers in their stewardship of Scotland's national forests and land.