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Full report: Forestry Commission try to stop killer tree disease

Forestry Commission Scotland is taking action to reduce the spread of a disease that's killing larch trees.

The infection has taken hold in part of the Galloway Forest Park - tens of thousands of the larches have been affected.

The Commission plans to fell areas of trees to try to contain the problem, and is asking the public t help out.

Matthew Taylor reports:

How to help prevent the spread of disease

Access to certain areas of the Galloway Forest Park is restricted while the trees are being felled.

However, there is no threat to the public and visitors are still welcome in the forest.

Members of the public can help stop the spread of the disease by adhering to these guidelines:

  • Keep to marked paths
  • Keep dogs on leads
  • Do not remove any plant material, such as cuttings, from the woodland
  • Remove soil and mud from boots and shoes before leaving the woodland
  • Thoroughly wash boots, shoes and bicycle wheels before visiting other susceptible areas, such as woodlands, gardens or garden centres and nurseries.

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Killer tree disease in Galloway Forest

The large area of trees infected by the disease Credit: ITV News Border

The disease Phytophthora ramorum was originally found in Dumfries and Galloway in 2012, but has now infected a large area of woodland in the Galloway Forest.

The disease can be easily spread over several miles through mists, air currents and watercourses.

The virus can also be spread on footwear, dogs' paws and bicycle wheels.

The dead buds on an infected tree Credit: ITV News Border

"Core area" of Galloway Forest infected by killer disease

An infected larch tree Credit: ITV News Border

John Dougan, the Forestry Commission's conservator in the area said:

"This is a worrying development and we are working with industry partners to manage its impact, both in terms of limiting its further spread and in dealing with the trees that have already been affected.

"There is a core area in Galloway Forest Park where it looks as if all larch has been infected and we are looking at how best to recover as much usable timber as possible.

"Beyond this core area, we are looking at taking further action to fell infected stands and those adjacent to it to try to minimise the further spread of the disease.

"Our aerial surveys have also identified suspicious sites in other parts of Scotland, however we think that the damage at these sites, most of which are well away from the main source of infection, could have been caused by canker - or reflects squirrel or deer damage of the tree.

"All of these sites will be visited so that our skilled surveyors can check for the disease."

Trees felled to stop disease

Some trees in the Forest of Galloway are to be felled to stop the spread of a disease that is killing larch trees.

Phytophthora ramorum on larch was first found in Dumfries & Galloway in 2010 but the Forestry Commission say the disease has spread considerably in Dumfries and Galloway.

The only way of dealing with the disease is by felling the large number of infected ones.

Access to public forests is only being restricted while trees are being felled, which is normal practice for safety reasons.

There is no threat to public health and visitors are still welcome in Galloway Forest Park but are being asked to help prevent or minimise the further spread of the disease.

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School kids help plant thousands of trees

Local school children will be getting dug in as part of the completion of a mass tree planting scheme at Talkin Tarn Country Park.

Three fields that were formerly grazed on the south east side of the Tarn are now covered in 11,000 trees.

8,000 of these have just been planted and the other 3,000 were put in with the help of local clubs, schools and volunteers.The trees have linked together Roman Wood and Sluice Wood to make one large area of woodland which increases its benefit for wildlife, particularly birdlife.

Funding for this project has come from the Forestry Commission's English Woodland Grant Scheme and the trees last year were funded by North Pennines AONB Partnership's 'Living North Pennines' project.