A new updated action plan for Phytophthora ramorum in Scotland has been published by Scottish Forestry.

The plan, which has been developed with help from the forestry sector, now emphasises a longer-term approach to managing the disease.

For the future management of the disease, Scotland is now split into two new zones:

  • Risk Reduction Zone: this area extends north and also covers the older Management Zone in the south west of Scotland where the disease is widespread. One of the key aims here is to reduce impacts on the forestry sector where there is more than one occurrence of infection. Where these infections are in reasonable close proximity and with similar characteristics, the use of an individual Statutory Plant Health Notices (SPHNs) to cover them is now permitted. Larch should still be planned to be removed over time.
  • Priority Action Zone: as the name suggests, this is where the actions will have the greatest impact of controlling the disease. In this area, which is north of the Risk Reduction Zone, there have been limited cases and if found, SPHNs and felling licences will be issued very quickly to fell trees.

Jack Mackay, tree health programme and risk manager with Scottish Forestry, said: “Although P. ramorum can’t be eradicated we can still take measures to slow its spread across Scotland. We have worked with the forestry sector to review the previous action plan and put in place measures to reflect a more longer term approach to tackling the disease, in balance with the need for a quick reaction to new discoveries where merited.

P. ramorum is still largely affecting the south and west of Scotland and our surveys have suggested that the majority of larch in Scotland is still unaffected. This is good news but we should not be complacent and take swift action to fell trees when necessary.”

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The disease was first found in Scottish plant nurseries in 2002 but then detected in larch in 2010.

The accepted best method of control to slow down the rate of spread is to fell the infected trees and all those surrounding them in a 250 metre buffer zone.

SPHNs are served by Scottish Forestry on woodland owners to fell when infections are found. The felled trees, if caught early, can still be used for timber.

P. ramorum can be spread in mud or needles stuck to footwear and machines, vehicles, bicycles or buggy tyres. All equipment and gear should be brushed clean before entering or leaving a forest.

Further details of the revised P. Ramorum Action Plan can be found here.

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