Larch felling in the Forest of Dean is set to start
FELLING of up to 50,000 larch trees is expected to start tomorrow.
The Forestry Commission hopes to nip the spore-borne disease in the bud, and not bring down all 700,000 larches in the Forest of Dean.
The first felling is set to start tomorrow, or Monday at the latest.
"We believe we have caught it at an early stage, and we are hopeful of containing it," said the Forestry Commission's planning forester, Francis Barker.
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Between 40,000 and 50,000 larch trees in the Forest are believed to be in areas of infection by phytophthora ramorum. The germ was first discovered in the Dean in June but not all trees in areas to be tackled are infected.
It's spreading across the South West, and if it continues unabated, all 700,000 larches in the Forest could have to be felled – 11 per cent of all the trees in the Forest of Dean.
Mr Barker said latest surveys indicated 101 hectares would have to be felled, with another eight hectares of smaller trees flailed, and 17 hectares of larch growing with other species thinned.
The spore sticks to the needles of the larch, so even removing smaller trees should stop it spreading.
In the east of the Forest, areas to be targeted are Kensley between Speech House and The Dilke, Edge Hills, Heywood, Soudley and Flaxley. In the west, larches in Kidnalls, Oakwood Bottom, Nagshead Lodge, Clanna, Worcester Walk and Highmeadow will be tackled.
The first contract for between 27,000 and 28,000 trees, has been awarded, while other contracts to take that figure to between 40,000 and 50,000 are expected to be signed imminently.
Infected wood will be used as bio fuel after going through a licensed sawmill, and uninfected wood can be sold for fencing, chipboard and for the construction industry. New trees will be also be planted.