TARGETED inspections are to take place in woodland across Scotland as concern mounts over a new disease identified in England.

Phytophthora pluvialis, a fungus-like pathogen known to affect a variety of tree species including western hemlock and Douglas fir, has been confimed in 13 sites by DEFRA officials. 

While the disease has not been found in Scotland just yet, Scottish Forestry chiefs, who visited an infected site south of the border, are to commence inspections as a precautionary measure. 

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These will primarily take place in the west of the country but landowners and forest managers are being asked to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of this disease and report any suspected infections through Tree Alert.

James Nott, head of tree health for Scottish Forestry, said: "Although there have been no confirmed reports of Phytophthora pluvialis in Scotland we are taking the detection of this disease in England, particularly Cumbria very seriously.

"Our tree health specialists have visited an infected site in England to observe symptoms first hand and will now be undertaking targeted inspections of Douglas fir and western hemlock, primarily in the West of Scotland.

Forestry Journal:

“We would also like to take this opportunity to highlight what people  can do to help protect woodlands and forests not only from Phytophthora pluvialis but also from a range of other pests and diseases.

"Visitors who enjoy the countryside can help considerably by 'turning up clean',  ensuring shoes, tyres and pet paws are clean before visits, limiting the risk of spreading diseases from other areas.

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"In addition, they can also help us greatly by reporting a potential tree pest or diseases through the website Tree Alert.”

As the disease has never been detected in Europe, research is ongoing to understand if other potentially susceptible species could become impacted.  This will help inform what control measures are appropriate and the potential impact this pathogen could have on the landscape and the forestry sector.

Scottish Forestry will continue to work with partner agencies across the UK to share information, experience and understanding to ensure a joint approach to monitoring and managing the current situation.