Woodland felling to slow spread of fatal tree disease
A significant programme of felling will start at Kilmun Hill (near Dunoon) next month as Forestry and Land Scotland tackles an outbreak of tree disease Phytophthora Ramorum.
The only way of dealing with the disease, which causes extensive damage and mortality to larch trees and other plants, is to fell and remove affected trees to reduce the risk of its spread to other woodlands in Cowal and Argyll.
The work is being carried out to meet the legal requirement to fell an area of infected trees as set out in the Statutory Plant Health Notice (SPHN) issued by Scottish Forestry.
Carol McGinnes, FLS’s Central Region Manager, said;
“This tree disease is forcing our hand and we are having to fell these trees before we would have chosen to. We know that this will have a big impact on the landscape but It’s vital that we deal with this outbreak now in order to slow the spread of this disease to other forests in the area.
“In order for us to do this safely, we are closing part of Benmore Forest to local residents who might normally be using this site for their daily exercise under the current COVID-19 restrictions.
“Haulage vehicles and other heavy machinery will be accessing or working on the site continuously and, due to the nature of the site, trees felled will also have to be winched up – or down – the hillside to a point where they can be loaded onto timber lorries.
“Members of the public need to keep clear of this area at all times so for everyone’s safety we are calling on people to be vigilant and obey all on site safety signage.
“We understand that this will cause some minor inconvenience but we would like to thank our neighbours for their support and understanding.”
Frequent timber haulage will be accessing the site from Midge Lane entrance, with the work site itself situated along the forest road towards Kilmun.
Following the removal of the trees a programme of replanting felled areas will be carried out in due course and updates will be available on FLS web pages.
“Current Scottish Government and NHS guidance on staying safe during the current public health crisis requires that everyone avoid making unnecessary journeys.
“This is also good advice for helping to restrict the spread of this tree disease, which can be carried to new, uninfected forests in larch needles that are easily picked up on feet, paws or bike wheels.
“We would hope that everyone is following this guidance – but none the less, it’s always good to clean footwear, bike tyres and dog paws before and after visiting a forest.”
Forestry and Land Scotland’s ‘Keep it Clean’ campaign provides important advice to help prevent the spread of anything harmful
Additional: There will be a delay to the re-opening of Pucks Glen following the movement of a tree stump in the gorge. The FLS team in the area is now assessing how stable this is and whether or not any remedial action is required to make it safe before members of the public are permitted to enter the site.
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.