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 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.
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. In 2021 we have a further 60 suspected sites in Cowal which we are surveying, and we are currently working on 24 confirmed sites from 2020. This map shows the confirmed SPHNs:
Scottish Forestry has recently launched a revised policy for dealing with Phytophthora ramorum.
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
|Destination||Felling status||Visitor trails|
|Corlarach||Felling complete||Berryburn - diverted
Balgaidh Burn - open
Corlarach Loop - open
|Garrowchorran Hill (Corlarach)||Near completion||Corlarach Loop - open with diversions|
|Puck’s Glen||Felling ongoing||Big Tree Trail – open
Black Gates Trail - closed
Puck's Glen Gorge Trail - opebn
|Puck’s Glen 3||Felling ongoing||Big Tree Trail – open
Black Gates Trail - closed
Puck's Glen Gorge Trail - closed
|Kilmun Hill||Felling Ongoing||No trails|
|Glenfinart||Felling ongoing||No trails|
|Inverchapel||Complete||No access between Inverchapel and
Kilmun Arboretum due to felling around Puck’s Glen.
|Carrow Downfall (Lochgoilhead)||Felling Ongoing||No trail|
|Eckford House||TBC||No trails|
|West Loch Eck||Felling ongoing||Loch Eck Loop open|
|East Loch Eck||Felling ongoing||Loch Eck diverted to west side only|
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.
Get in touch
If you have any questions regarding ongoing works and access restrictions, please contact: