Belfast Telegraph

Phytophthora ramorum - disease confirmed at Castlewellan Forest Park

Stormont press releases

An outbreak of the disease caused by Phytophthora ramorum has been confirmed in larch trees at Castlewellan Forest Park.

The Forest Service said the area of trees affected is approximately 100 hectares. The disease was identified when many trees that were apparently healthy last autumn showed symptoms during the spring. Many trees have already died. Action to fell the trees is underway because this is the most effective way of preventing further spread.

Confirming the new outbreak at Castlewellan Forest Park, Forest Service Chief Executive Malcolm Beatty, said: “We are very disappointed about this outbreak in Castlewellan as it is further evidence that the disease is continuing to spread. We will clear over 100 hectares of forest to reduce the risk of the disease spreading to other forest species, and to recover as much of the timber as is possible."

The Forest Service chief also appealed to the public to help in the control of the disease saying: "Castlewellan Forest Park remains open to visitors. However, visitors to the forest should follow the guidance detailed on signs at the affected sites. It is especially important to avoid any action which could result in the movement of infected soil or plant parts to uninfected areas. Visitors are also urged to ensure their bicycles and footwear are free of any soil before visiting other areas. The disease presents no risk to humans or animals, although the temporary loss of habitat for wild animals is inevitable.”

Further details on the disease can be found at the NIDirect website:

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