Browned trees battered by storms

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8 JUNE 2011NEWS RELEASE No: 14690

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Experts from Forestry Commission Scotland are allaying public fears over the “browning” of many trees on the west coast of Scotland.

Although the trees may look unhealthy, it is hoped that most will recover over time. 

Experts are citing the exceptionally strong winds and salt laden sea air of 23 May as the cause for scorching the trees and turning them brown. 

Many broadleaved trees and larches have been affected and, to a lesser extent, pine and other conifers. The main geographical area affected appears to stretch from Dumfries and Galloway north to Fort Wiliam on the western seaboard.

Hugh Clayden,Tree Health policy adviser for Forestry Commission Scotland said:

“We’ve had a number of calls from worried members of the public who have seen large areas of trees turning brown for apparently no reason. Their first thought is that they are in bad health due to disease.

“We’re very grateful for these calls but we are quite sure that what is being reported here is usually a result of the recent very strong winds coupled with salt-laden air on the coast. Basically the trees’ delicate new leaves and needles have been dried out as well as physically damaged by the exceptional winds."

 Browning and leaf wilt is also apparent inland but does not yet appear to be anything like as severe. Other causes of extensive browning include the severe winter frosts.

Mr Clayden added:

“We will be examining trees to see if the buds and twigs are still alive. If they are, recovery should take place this year and next. If not, some die-back of branches is likely to occur - although we would still expect most trees to recover unless they suffer further extreme events.”

If for some reason trees continue to show signs of ill health in a month or two then Forestry Commission Scotland would welcome reports from the public.

Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.