26 Nov 2021

Scottish Forestry to impose movement restrictions after discovery of Phytophthora pluvialis in the north west of Scotland

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

Following this finding, Scottish Forestry will introduce a demarcated area around the infected site to help avoid accidental spread of the pathogen.

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 (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. 

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. 

For more information on P. pluvialis a symptom guide has been prepared based on what has been observed in England. Landowners are asked to report any suspect trees via TreeAlert.

Lorna Slater, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity 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.

"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.

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.

Notes to Editors

Mapping of western hemlock and Douglas fir (2 current identified susceptible species) suggests they are widespread across Scotland in small numbers. Approximately 16,000 – 20,000 ha. 

In 2021 P. pluvialis was confirmed in England - Cornwall, Devon and Cumbria. 

Further information on tree pests and diseases, and how to identify them, is available here. 

Together we can help control the spread of forest diseases. To find out more, visit Keep it clean.