Long-term push to contain tree disease in West Argyll
Forestry and Land Scotland’s West Region team is drawing up long-term emergency plans to deal with the substantial spread of tree disease, Phytophthora ramorum, which attacks larch trees.
The steps are being taken as a results of this year’s national tree health survey revealed that the Region has 20 new sites where the disease has been confirmed.
Of those, 12 have to be felled by the middle of February 2021, with the remaining 9 being felled before the end of March 2021.
Affected areas include Mull, Loch Awe catchment, Lochaline, Kintyre, Glen Righ, and Loch Fyne.
Andy Hunt, FLS’s West Region Manager, said;
“It’s a real blow to have so many sites to deal with – it’s going to substantially tax our resources and challenge our planning and delivery teams. As well as dealing with these sites of infection, we’re also getting our normal operations back on track after the COVID-19 lockdown.
“It’s going to be a long haul that will see substantial changes to some well-loved landscapes over the next four years 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.
“As we get this work started we will have to close some sites for public safety and we will make people aware of the closures before we start work. 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 team will work on the removal of infected Larch trees as per the requirements of the Statutory Plant Health Notices (SPHNs) that have been served by regulator Scottish Forestry. The intention is to also fell additional larch areas over the next four years to reduce the potential for further infection.
To achieve this increased felling, new forest roads will need to be built, as well as existing forest roads upgraded and harvesting facilities constructed.
FLS is also working on replanting plans that will reduce the visual impact as much as possible.
“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.”
Notes to editors
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.