New rules in place after tree disease found in south Shropshire

Tough rules on the movement of wood are due to come into force across a wide swathe of south Shropshire after a tree disease was found in the area.

Phytophthora pluvialis has been found in south Shropshire
Phytophthora pluvialis has been found in south Shropshire

The disease, called phytophthora pluvialis, leaves lesions on the stem, branch or roots of western hemlock and Douglas-fir trees.

The Forestry Commission is urging woodland managers, landowners and the forestry industry to remain vigilant following further findings of phytophthora pluvialis in areas across England.

Notices due to come into force on Thursday, June 16, will prohibit the movement of any wood, isolated bark and trees including live trees, felled or fallen trees, fruit, seeds, leaves or foliage of the genus Tsuga, Pseudotsuga, Pinus and Notholithocarpus, that has originated within the demarcated area.

The demarcated area is centred on woodland near Ludlow

Plant health inspectors will be able to authorise movements and processing of material from the demarcated area, which is centred on Ludlow, where this can be achieved without risking the spread of phytophthora pluvialis.

They also include an additional restriction on the felling of susceptible material within the demarcated areas, unless the Forestry Commission has been notified in writing in advance.

Landowners must provide notice of their intention to fell relevant material at least 14 days in advance of any felling in the demarcated areas.

Felling may only commence once written authorisation is provided the Forestry Commission. For all enquiries contact ppluvialis.authorisation@forestrycommission.gov.uk

Landlords can also request an authorisation for plants for planting - in which case contact your local APHA inspector planthealth.info@apha.gov.uk.

Phytophthora pluvialis is a fungus-like pathogen known to affect a variety of tree species, including western hemlock, Douglas fir, tanoak and several pine species, in particular radiata pine.

It is reported to cause needle cast, where needles turn brown and fall off, shoot dieback, and lesions on the stem, branches, and roots.

Nicola Spence, the UK’s Chief Plant Health Officer, said: "We are taking robust and swift action against the findings of phytophthora pluvialis at these sites, as part of our well-established biosecurity protocol for tree pests and diseases.

"I urge all sectors to support efforts to tackle this pathogen by checking the health of western hemlock and Douglas-fir trees. Key symptoms to look out for are lesions on the stem, branch or roots. Any sightings should be reported to the Forestry Commission via its TreeAlert online portal.

The Forestry Commission is urging woodland managers, landowners and the forestry industry to remain vigilant following further findings of phytophthora pluvialis.

Following further findings in Wales, a demarcated area was introduced in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire to combat any potential spread.

A new demarcated area has been introduced following the identification of the pathogen in a woodland in Shropshire.

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