RESIDENTS on and visitors to Arran are being urged to help slow the spread of Phytophthora ramorum as Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) South Region team prepares to tackle an outbreak on the island.

Phytophthora ramorum was first found in Scotland in 2002, with infections on Scottish larch trees confirmed in 2009, and larch infections on Arran observed in 2013. The disease has had its most significant impacts on larch across south-west Scotland, where the weather is known to be favourable for infection and spread.

Arran is one of several areas in the south and west of Scotland where the scale of infections has increased this year.

FLS’s local team is now working to schedule a programme of felling works to remove affected trees and has asked that members of the public lend a hand by following biosecurity advice to ‘Keep it Clean’.

Andy Walker, for the FLS team on Arran, said: “This is a horrible disease that can’t be eradicated and has no known cure. The only way we have to slow its rate of spread is to fell the affected larch trees.

“It will result in substantial changes to some well-loved landscapes over the next few years but if we don’t do this, then the long-term impact will be even worse.

“That’s why we’re asking people to help by taking a few simple steps to help limit the spread of the disease to other sites on the island where the larch is so far unaffected.

“The spores that spread this disease can be carried to other sites in mud and forest debris – so please follow our ‘Keep it Clean’ advice and 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.

“These simple measures 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.”

Forestry Journal:

Phytophthora ramorum has been confirmed at several places on the east, west, and south of the island and felling work to remove affected trees will begin before Christmas.

As work is carried out some sites will be closed for public safety and visitors are urged to follow diversion signs with advice to ‘Keep it Clean’.

The team will work on the necessary removal of affected Larch trees as Statutory Plant Health Notices are served by the regulatory agency, Scottish Forestry, with a view to fell additional larch areas over the next four years to proactively manage the impact of further infections in the area.

Sasha Laing, from the local Scottish Forestry conservancy, said: “The location and scale of infections on Arran have required us to develop our local regulatory approach to look to achieve the best disease control outcomes over the coming years. The approach taken allows due consideration of the unique landscape of Arran and the capacity of the forestry sector to deliver these outcomes.”

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