Isle of Man deadly tree disease spread 'considerable'

Colden Plantation Aerial surveys by the Forestry Commission in 2011 showed the affected areas

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A recent survey by the Manx Forestry Directorate has shown a "considerable" spread of a deadly tree disease in the north of the Isle of Man.

Phytophthora ramorum was first found on the island in 2011 during a routine aerial inspection of Manx plantations.

More than 9,000 cubic metres (317,832 cubic feet) of trees were felled in the Colden and Ballaugh areas as part of efforts to control the disease.

Northern Forester, Jason Bolt, said the recent spread is considerable.

He said: "We have identified 14 extra sites which have become infected since last September. Predominantly those sites are in the north of the island but more worryingly we are now seeing a spread down in the south too.

"We have confirmed cases in the South Barrule Forest Park as well as the Tholt-y-Will Forest and national glen and Axnfell Plantation. The main hub is at Injebreck.

Boot washing

It is thought that about 98% of the cases have occurred on government land but some owners of private estates have also been made aware of instances of infection.

Phytophthora ramorum, a fungus-like pathogen, causes the ramorum disease and is thought to be particularly serious in Japanese larch trees and rhododendrons.

Signs of the disease are wilting blackening foliage, discoloured tops and resin bleeding.

"We are encouraging members of the public to clear their footwear of mud and foliage on leaving an infected area, before walking across the upland hills or before moving from one part of the island to another, cyclists and motorists are being asked to wash tyres," said Mr Bolt.

The department also advises that dogs should be kept on a lead at all times in the affected areas.

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