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Most of our visitor centres, car parks and mountain bike trails are now open. Check what’s open near you before you travel and enjoy your visit safely.

Phytophthora ramorum is a tree disease affecting Larch that has been prevalent in South West Scotland for many years with sporadic outbreaks elsewhere in Scotland. It can’t be eradicated. The only way to slow the rate of spread is to fell the infected trees and those surrounding them.

Felling operations and site closures are ongoing throughout 2020-2021 in order to remove affected trees and reduce the risk of spread to other woodlands in Cowal and Argyll. Felling operations mean certain areas and paths throughout Corlarach Forest, Benmore Forest, Puck's Glen and Kilmun Arboretum will be closed to the public for safety reasons. Areas that are closed change frequently throughout the works and we often need to close multiple areas at the same time. If you are planning to visit, we recommend checking the relevant forest webpage first to ensure it is open.

Felled areas will be replanted. Although, depending on the species chosen, there is a recommended fallow period of three years. Our response to Phytophthora ramorum will not result in long term deforestation.

Hybrid larch cone and needles - licensed under Creative Commons Wikicommons/Heiti Paves

How we find out what trees are affected

Scottish Forestry, the regulator for forestry in Scotland, conducts bi-annual helicopter surveillance and associated ground surveys of Larch to monitor the spread of Phytophthora ramorum. Since the last community events, we have 80 suspected sites in Cowal which we are surveying. This map shows the suspected spread:

Map - Phytophthora ramorum sites in Cowal (PDF 2.8MB)

Statutory Plant Health Notices (SPHNs) are issued requiring the felling of infected Larch stands and susceptible hosts within a 250 metre buffer zone, usually within a 2–4 month period. Felling of Larch and other trees affected by the Statutory Plant Health Notice has been approved by Scottish Forestry. If you have any questions about this approval, they should be addressed to – Scottish Forestry, Perth & Argyll Conservancy, Upper Battleby, Redgorton, Perth PH1 3EN or sent by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

After being issued an SPHN, we then start work on the removal of infected Larch trees. We also aim to fell additional Larch areas over the next four years to reduce the potential for infection in this area and therefore reduce the spread across Scotland. To achieve this increased felling, new forest roads will have to be built, existing forest roads upgraded and harvesting facilities constructed. We appreciate this will have a big impact on the landscape and our visitor trails and facilities. However, we are already working on replanting plans which will reduce the visual impact as much as possible. Visitor trails will only be closed when there is no other option and will be reopened as soon as is practically possible.

Confirmed Statutory Plant Health Notices in Cowal and their current status

This map shows confirmed Statutory Plant Health Notices (SPHN) on Forestry and Land Scotland managed sites with Phytophthora ramorum:

SPHN Map (PDF 1.5MB)

DestinationFelling statusVisitor trails
Corlarach Felling ongoing Berryburn - open
Balgaidh Burn - open
Corlarach Loop - open with diversions
Berry Burn (Corlarach) Date TBC Berryburn - open
Balgaidh Burn - open
Corlarach Loop - open with diversions
Bishops Glen Reservoir (Corlarach) Date TBC Berryburn - open
Balgaidh Burn - open
Corlarach Loop - open with diversions
Garrowchorran Hill (Corlarach) Date TBC Corlarach Loop - open with diversions
Achafour (Corlarach) Date TBC Corlarach Loop - open with diversions
Puck’s Glen Felling ongoing Big Tree Trail – open with diversions
Black Gates Trail - closed
Puck's Glen Gorge Trail - closed
Puck’s Glen 3 Date TBC Big Tree Trail – open with diversions
Black Gates Trail - closed
Puck's Glen Gorge Trail - closed
Kilmun Hill Felling ongoing All trails open
Kilmun Arboretum Date TBC John Jackson Trail - open
Eucalyptus Trail - open
Conifer Trail - open
Kilmun Single Date TBC John Jackson Trail - open
Eucalyptus Trail - open
Conifer Trail - open
Strathlachlan Felling to resume in October No trails
Gairletter Felling planned to resume in October No trails
Whistlefield Felling ongoing Loch Eck Loop - open
Glenfinart TBC No trails
Inverchapel TBC Loch Eck Loop - open
Black Gates Trail - closed
Big Tree Trail - open with diversions
Cruach Benmore TBC Loch Eck Loop - open
Coillessan Houses (Ardgartan) TBC Coilessan Shore Cycle Route - open with banksmen in place
Ardgartan Peninsula Circuit - open with banksmen in place
Carrow Downfall (Lochgoilhead) TBC No trail
Lettermay Junction (Lochgoilhead) TBC Only Loch Lomond & Cowal Way long distance trail - open

Biosecurity

Phytophthora ramorum can be spread in mud or needles stuck to footwear and tyres on bicycles, buggies, machines and vehicles. Please follow our Keep it clean advice to ensure footwear, bikes, kit and dogs’ paws are always clean before and after visiting any woodland.

 

Why this work is necessary (PDF 3.9MB)

Larch disease in Argyll Forest Park (PDF 416KB)

Phytophthora ramorum in Scotland (Scottish Forestry website)

 

Get in touch

If you have any questions regarding ongoing works and access restrictions, please contact:

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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