Tree Health Action plans launched

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27 MARCH 2013NEWS RELEASE No: 15908

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Forestry Commission Scotland today (Wednesday 27 March) published three tree health action plans detailing specific and focused approaches to tackling three key tree diseases in Scotland.

The plans - for Chalara dieback of ash, Dothistroma needle blight on pines, and Ramorum on larch– are based on the best scientific advice and expert opinion available.

They have been published following detailed consideration and input by the Scottish Tree Health Advisory Group (which includes representation from the forestry, environmental, horticulture/ nursery and arboricultural sectors) 

The objectives of the Scottish Chalara Action Plan have been aligned with principles agreed across GB and which were included in DEFRA’s Chalara Management Plan, published earlier this week. 

Environment & Climate Change Minister, Paul Wheelhouse said:

“Scotland’s forestry sector faces significant challenges in tackling these three tree diseases and tackling them will require focused, co-ordinated and determined efforts – both in terms of research and in terms of woodland and forest management.

“The Scotland-specific action plans published today will help woodland owners and managers - private, public and third sector – to decide what management actions they can implement in their woodlands to help minimise the economic, social and environmental impact of these diseases.

“The emphasis is on proportionate action based on the best available guidance. Over the next year we will continue working with a wide range of stakeholders to implement these action plans as the first steps in a much longer process of increasing the resilience of our woodlands to future uncertainties such as climate change and new tree health threats.

“I am grateful to all those stakeholders that have engaged with Forestry Commission Scotland and helped to develop these plans.”

Within the broader context of the sustainable forest management principles set out in the UK Forestry Standard and the Scottish Forestry Strategy, the plans stress the need for ongoing research and surveillance work, the application of proportionate biosecurity measures and prompt intervention when necessary.

Key elements of the Action plans include:

  • Chalara dieback of ash – identifying ash trees with resistance to the disease; wider awareness raising; delaying the arrival and spread of the disease in the remoter north and west of Scotland; and continuing to develop management guidance as our scientific knowledge of this diseases develops. 
  • Ramorum on larch – increasing aerial surveillance capacity; rapid identification of new areas of infection and prompt action to reduce the rate of spread; continued awareness-raising; embedding proportionate biosecurity measures; and addressing capacity issues in the timber supply chain.    
  • Dothistroma needle blight – continued awareness-raising; developing management advice on the choice of alternative tree species/origins and silvicultural measures such as thinning and tree spacing; evaluating the potential impacts and effectiveness of fungicide treatments; instigating formal disease surveys in Caledonian pinewoods and develop specific management advice on the precautionary measures that can be taken to protect such woodlands; and continuing to work with the nursery sector to increase their resilience to the disease. 

The countryside remains open and there is no threat to human or animal health from any of these diseases. However, visitors to woodland can help prevent spreading  tree diseases by just taking some very simple actions  such as removing any mud, plant material or leaves from clothing, boots, dogs, tyres and wheels of bicycles/buggies and  by not removing sticks, twigs or leaves from the forest.

The Scottish Government is continuing to work closely with the UK Government on tree and plant health issues, including pressing for better controls on the international trade in plants across Europe.

For more advice on Chalara, Dothistroma and Ramorum, as well as a number of other tree pests and diseases please refer to the Forestry Commission’s Pests & Diseases web page (at right of page under Related Documents).

Notes to Editors
1.    Survey work undertaken by FCS and other Scottish Government colleagues since last autumn has now found 74 confirmed cases of Chalara in Scotland (as at 22 March), including two private nurseries, 64 recent planting sites and eight sites in the wider environment. The rise in numbers does not mean that the disease is spreading, as it is only infectious in the summer months. The increase reflects the number of positive confirmations from on-going surveys and testing of samples.

2. To-date there are over 420 ha of larch woodland known to have been infected with Ramorum in Scotland. With the wet and windy weather last summer and autumn this area might increase significantly but this will not be known until aerial surveillance recommences in May.

3. There are now some 12,600 ha of pine woodland known to have been infected by Dothistroma needle blight on the national forest estate in Scotland, two thirds of which is on lodgepole pine and one third on Scots pine. The full extent of the disease in private sector woodlands is not yet known.  Dothistroma was confirmed for the first time in a Caledonian pinewood in 2011.

4.  Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment & Forestry Directorate

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6. Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde.