South Scotland

Larch tree disease's Dumfries and Galloway impact 'huge'

Image caption Large parts of the Galloway Forest Park have been affected by the disease

Visitors have been urged to take extra care in woodlands in the south west after a tree disease which kills larches prompts more felling activity.

Phytophthora ramorum was first found in Dumfries and Galloway in 2010 but is now widespread in the region.

Forestry Commission Scotland said the impact at the Galloway Forest Park was particularly stark.

It said the only way to tackle the disease was to fell infected trees and those nearby over the next few years.

Keith Muir, head of tourism for the FCS team in Galloway, said: "The impact on Galloway forests will be huge.

"Within Galloway Forest Park, much of the larch can be found in highly visible areas, often close to our visitor centres, walking and mountain biking routes.

"There is a lot of forestry activity going on at the moment and this will continue for the foreseeable future so this is really a call to make all visitors - and locals - aware of the need for additional caution."

He said efforts were now being made to remove as many larch trees as possible from the most heavily-visited areas before the busier 2014 tourist season.

Ongoing disruptions

"This will mean that there will be a lot of heavy machinery on site and more timber lorries than usual working in the forests and some of the minor roads," he said.

"Unfortunately this means that there will be ongoing disruptions for visitors and trail users and there will be times when certain routes and car parks will be closed.

"There will be diversions in place, which might change from day to day, so people need to take extra care, especially local residents who visit the forest on a daily basis."

He apologised for any inconvenience and said every effort would be made to limit disruption.

"The forest park very much remains open and visitors are extremely welcome but we would ask that everyone make themselves aware of and observe the biosecurity guidance notices on site and online," he added.

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