THE Forestry Commission has announced further findings of the tree disease Phytophthora pluvialis in areas across England, alongside corresponding tree health protection measures to combat further spread.

The FC is urging woodland managers, landowners and the forestry industry to remain vigilant following further findings of Phytophthora pluvialis in Devon and Cornwall, Surrey and Gloucestershire.

Phytophthora pluvialis is a fungus-like pathogen known to affect a variety of tree species, including western hemlock, Douglas fir, tanoak and several pine species (in particular radiata pine). It is reported to cause needle cast (where needles turn brown and fall off), shoot dieback, and lesions on the stem, branches, and roots.

READ MORE: Disease confirmed to cause 'resinous cankers on Western hemlock'

Phytophthora pluvialis has been detected on mature western hemlock and Douglas-fir trees at the affected sites, and has been confirmed as the direct cause of the observed symptoms.

Nicola Spence, the UK’s chief plant health officer, said: "We are taking robust and swift action against the findings of Phytophthora pluvialis at these sites, as part of our well-established biosecurity protocol for tree pests and diseases.

"I urge all sectors to support efforts to tackle this pathogen by checking the health of western hemlock and Douglas-fir trees. Key symptoms to look out for are lesions on the stem, branch or roots. Any sightings should be reported to the FC via its TreeAlert online portal."

READ MORE: Could P. pluvialis pulverise UK forestry?

New measures in response to these findings include:

  • Extensions to existing demarcated areas in Devon and Cornwall have been made following further identifications of the pathogen in these areas. The relevant Notices will come into force on Thursday, 21 April.
  • A new demarcated area has been introduced following the identification of the pathogen in woodlands in Surrey. The relevant Notice will come into force on Thursday, 21 April.
  • Following further findings in Wales, a new demarcated area has been introduced in Gloucestershire to combat any potential spread. The relevant Notice will come into force on Thursday, 21 April.