We have been approached by the Forestry Authority on behalf of DEFFRA. They have informed us that after an arial survey of the park this summer, they have identified Phytophthora Ramorum in Larch trees. These are in the area from Tarn Hows, Drunken Duck through to Brathay Hall.
Phytophthora R., is a fungal-like organism that causes the death of a wide range of trees and shrubs. The greatest impact so far has been on larch plantations, leading to thousands of hectares of felling around the UK.
Phytophthora Ramorum Symptoms
-Blackened base of the leaf near the petiole and along the midrib of the leaf.
-Withered and blackened leaves or needles leading to dieback of the outer branches.
-Areas of black “bleeding” on the trunk.
In larch, the disease progresses very quickly so whole trees will be dead within a short period of time.
Phytophthora species are microscopic fungal-like organisms closely related to algae with spores spread via wind-driven rain.
Tree and Shrub Felling
We are about to be issued with a statutory notice to fell all larch on the park. This slows the spread by taking away the pathogens host and preventing spores from spreading to other species such as Sweet Chestnut, Beech and Oak. Rhododendron is also very susceptible and we are currently arguing a stay of execution for these plants as they provide so much of the colour for the park throughout the year.
The felling of the 250 or so Larch is not grant aided in any way and we will have to have this work carried out by the 1st of March. A lot of these trees are large specimens some will be able to be felled traditionally. However the trees in and around caravan holiday homes that need to be removed will have to be removed by crane.
Whilst the timber is potentially saleable there are strict restrictions on how it can be transported and dealt with in the mills. As such, the monetary value is negligible.
We are all devastated by this situation. It comes on the back of Ash Die back, some of which needs to be dealt with this winter.
Planning and re-planting for the future
We are currently exploring contractors to carry out this expensive and time consuming work. This is at a time when other projects had already been planned. It will no doubt change the overall landscape of the park. It has been giving a few of us sleepless nights trying to understand how to comply with the notice in the time scale allowed. We will of course keep you updated with developments and plans to replant.
A video from Skelwith Fold Caravan Park owner Henry Wild about Phytophthora Ramorum.