SCOTTISH Forestry has issued a warning to walkers after the outbreak of a disease brought about the felling of tens of thousands of trees in East Renfrewshire.

More than 13 ha of forest at the Neilston Pad was affected by Phytophthora ramorum.

The managing agents of Elderslie Estates, which owns the land at the Neilston Pad, confirmed they were given a statutory notice by Scottish Forestry that the larch trees had to be felled due to the spread of the disease. An estimated 20,000 trees have now been axed in a bid to prevent the disease from spreading.

Scottish Forestry is now encouraging woodland visitors to help prevent the spread of disease through brushing mud and debris from their walking boots, bike tyres and walking poles.

A spokesperson said: “Our forests are at risk from tree pests and diseases. These can dramatically affect the health of our trees, upsetting the delicate ecosystem balance and devastating large areas of woodland.

“Pests and diseases hitch a ride in mud and debris on shoes, paws and tyres, ending up in new forests. Here, they can spread rapidly in environments with no natural resilience.

“We’re doing everything we can to tackle these challenges, but we need the public’s help too.

“Before a forest visit, remember to clean your shoes, bike, any toys or equipment and your dog’s body. Just take a moment to brush off any visible dirt and give everything a good wash, as this helps to slow disease spread, preserving our woodlands now and for future generations.

“Landowners and managers are also encouraged to download a standard poster and an editable version to advise visitors about biosecurity.”

This story first appeared in the Barrhead News.