Long-term push to contain tree diseases in Cowal
Forestry and Land Scotland’s Central 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 120 potential new sites where the disease has been suspected - with 80 of them being in the Cowal & Trossachs area.
The news comes as felling work to tackle the disease at previously infected sites resumes (including Puck’s Glen and Kilmun Hill) and as the Cowal team begins to schedule the work required by control orders (Statutory Plant Health Notices) for 12 new sites.
Of those, one has to be felled by the end of October, four by the end of November and one by the end of December. The remaining six must be felled before March 2021.
Fraser McDonald, for the FLS team in Cowal, 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. 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."
Sites that are already being cleared of infected and susceptible trees, or where felling will soon start, include Corlarach, Pucks Glen, Kilmun Hill, Strathlachlan, Gairletter, and Whistlefield.
The team will work on the removal of infected Larch trees as SPHNs are served by regulator Scottish Forestry, and view to fell additional larch areas over the next four years to reduce the potential for further infection in the area. 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.