SURVEYS in Cowal to detect whether a tree disease deadly to larch has spread over the winter have uncovered 60 suspected sites of new infection.

Further testing will be carried out to confirm the presence of Phytophthora ramorum at the new sites - mainly in the Kilmun, Ardentinny, south Loch Eck and Lochgoilhead areas.

Positive test results will result in FLS being served more Statutory Plant Health Notices (SPHN) requiring that all the infected trees – and a surrounding ‘buffer zone’ - be felled.

Fraser MacDonald, for the FLS team in the area, said: “We have been working hard over the past couple of years to deal with this disease, felling affected trees to help slow the spread and buy researchers time to explore every avenue in their pursuit of alternative responses.

“This latest round of surveys is potentially an additional strain on our resources and it’s clear that over the next three or four years people will notice changes to Cowal landscapes.

“As well as the loss of affected larch trees, we will need to build new forest roads, upgrade existing roads and also construct new harvesting facilities.

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“We appreciate that all of this will have a big impact on the landscape and recreation facilities in the short term. However, we are working on plans for replanting affected areas that will reduce the visual impact as much as possible.”

All felled areas will be replanted with a range of species (except larch) to maintain visual diversity in the landscape.

FLS continues to work on felling larch at 18 sites that were subject to SPHNs last year.

FLS said it aims to hold drop-in events for local communities affected by the work as soon as current Covid restrictions are relaxed.

Anyone who would like to find out more, or who would like and FLS representative to attend a virtual community meeting can contact

Any sightings of suspect larch should be reported to

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