Larch tree disease threatens forest

There are concerns that larch disease in Galloway forest park could spread to another species of tree. Although larch trees have been cut down for several years, the disease is still spreading.

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Diseased trees pose threat to Galloway forest

Thousands of trees are being felled across South West Scotland, to tackle the spread of a disease affecting Larches. The Galloway Forest Park has the greatest number of infected trees in the UK, and won't be free of it for another two years.

Larch Disease was first noticed in Devon and Cornwall in 2010, before spreading to Wales in 2011 and the West of Scotland in 2012, but the biggest outbreak of the disease by far has been in Galloway.

Felling in the Galloway Forest Park has been taking place continually since 2012, and since then 1,300 hectares of larch have been taken down, that's about the equivalent of 2,000 football pitches.

Our reporter Fiona McIlwraith has been to meet the forestry commission to find out how the work is going.

Dry summers needed to reduce tree disease

Larch trees have been cut down for several year to try and stop the disease Credit: ITV Border

A tree disease threatens other species if it spreads in Galloway Forest Park.

Larch trees have been cut down for many years but hasn't rid the disease. However, good weather has helped to reduce the spread of disease.

Dry weather can stop the disease spores from spreading Credit: Forestry Commission, Scotland

"Having had two relatively good dry summers, springs and summers in 2013 and 2014 this year, it appears that the disease doesn't spread as far if the weather is dry and not too windy, it needs wind and rain, moisture to move it, move the spores through the atmosphere.

We're not complacent in saying that if we remove our larch that's the disease gone, it's not guaranteed not to jump onto other species, but we think that by a combination of good weather for us, bad weather for the disease and felling the larch we will reduce the level of spores to an absolute minimum and hopefully it wont jump to another species and cause the same sort of damage that it's caused to the larch."

– Bill Fisher, Forestry Commission Scotland

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