Woodland managers, landowners, the forest industry and tree nurseries have been urged to be vigilant following the discovery of Phytophthora pluvialis near Loch Carron in the north west of Scotland.

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

It is reported to cause needle cast, shoot dieback, and lesions on the stem, branches, and roots. It was found for the first time in the UK in 2021 on western hemlock and Douglas fir and has now been detected in Devon, Cornwall and Cumbria in England and now near Loch Carron in Scotland. Scottish Forestry has introduced a demarcated area around the infected site to help avoid accidental spread of the pathogen.

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Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna Slater, said: "Following the established biosecurity protocol we are taking swift action against this finding of Phytophthora pluvialis. We are imposing a movement restriction in the area of the find at Loch Carron and will continue targeted inspections at potential high risk sites across Scotland.

"We are asking the forestry industry and landowners to help tackle this pathogen and avoid its spread. Please check the health of western hemlock and Douglas fir trees on your land. Key symptoms to look for are lesions on the stem, branch or roots and report any suspect tress via Tree Alert immediately," said Ms Slater.

"We also want to emphasise that everyone visiting the countryside and our woods can help prevent the spread of pests and pathogens by taking simple steps and ensuring they clean their shoes, bike tyres and pet’s paws before visits. Everyone has a part they can play in protecting our woodlands."

As the disease has never been detected in Europe before, research is ongoing to understand if other potentially susceptible species could become impacted. This will help inform which control measures are appropriate and the potential impact this pathogen could have on the landscape and the forestry sector.

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Scottish Forestry will continue to work with partner agencies across the UK to share information, experience and understanding to ensure a joint approach to monitoring and managing the situation.