Thousands of trees are being felled across the South West and are starting to be felled in Devon and Cornwall because of the spread of a deadly disease.
Infected trees were first found in the South West in 2009 but helicopter surveys have shown the disease has spread more rapidly than expected.
Landowners are asked to be vigilant about so-called Sudden Oak Death and report any suspected outbreaks.

Felling has started at the Glynn Valley in Cornwall, one of 40 suspect sites in Devon and Cornwall.
Chris Marrow, from the Forestry Commission, said: “We’ve had to abandon several of our programmed pieces of work to be able to concentrate on this.
“I can’t see it ending any time soon. We have to get this disease under control.”
Felling infected trees will continue in Plym Woods on the edge of Plymouth and Lydford on the edge of Dartmoor.
Felling will also soon start at Burrator Reservoir on Dartmoor.
The Forestry Commission is urging landowners to be vigilant and report any discoloured or dead trees on their woodland.

p-ramorum-smallThe organism, Phytophthora ramorum, gets its common name because it kills many of the trees and plants that it infects.
Symptoms include large growths on the tree’s trunk and dying foliage, in many cases eventually leading to the death of the tree.
It was first identified eight years ago on a viburnum plant at a garden center and has since infected shrubs including rhododendrons, viburnum and bilberries.
In 2009 Japanese larch trees in south west England were found to be infected.

Susceptible trees

Except where disease levels are intense on foliar hosts such as R. ponticum, P. ramorum is unlikely to infect European species of oak (such as common or pendunculate oak (Q. robur) or sessile oak (Q. petraea), Laboratory tests on their relative susceptibility indicates that these species are more resistant than their American cousins. Some conifer species such as Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) may also be susceptible.

In November 2003, the first P. ramorum infected tree outside the USA was confirmed on a mature specimen of southern red oak (Quercus falcata) in Sussex. Since then, the Dutch have confirmed P. ramorum infections on several beech (Fagus sylvatica) and red oak (Quercus rubra) trees. Up to early December 2008 most infected trees with bleeding lesions have been found in Cornwall, with beech the most frequently affected species. Other tree species found with potentially lethal infections caused by P. ramorum have been rare but include southern beech (Nothofagus obliqua) horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), sessile oak (Quercus petraea), Turkey oak (Q. cerris) and sycamore (Acer psuedoplatanus). In addition, a few other tree species have been found suffering from leaf and shoot infections caused by P. ramorum. These include holm oak (Quercus ilex), Turkey oak, ash (Fraxinus excelsior), sweet chestnut, Magnolia , Michelia and Eucalyptus species.

BBC News Article 15th July 2010
BBC News Article 21st July 2010

Full details of this disease, identification pictures of symptoms, and control measures can be found on the Forestry Commission’s Web Site

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