AN outbreak of a deadly tree killing disease will see part of one of Scotland’s best loved forests closed next month as experts try to contain its spread.
Dog walkers, tourists and trekkers are also being urged to take preventative measures to help control the outbreak of Phytophthora ramorum.
The discovery in the Argyll Forest Park is so severe, that workers are being drafted in to fell affected timbers.
The disease particularly harms species such as larch and oak.
Now Forest Enterprise Scotland, who manages the area, has confirmed it is to close parts of the forest and put in diversions at Kilmun Arboretum and Corlarach as felling begins over the next month.
They say the emergency removal of infected trees and those surrounding them could help to minimise and slow down the spread of the disease.
Carpark and trails will be closed completely for the duration of the felling and timber extraction from August 6 to August 31.
In Corlarach, Forest Enterprise now says the Corlarach Loop will be closed from 13th August to 1st August next year.
The Corlarach route is already diverted due to ongoing harvesting operations and diversion remain in place throughout the new harvesting works.
Ardyne carpark will remain open and diversions for Chinese Pond route will be in place.
The forest website also has instructions appealing for users to follow their ‘Keep it Clean’ guidelines and wash footwear, bikes, kit and dogs paws before and after visiting.
Fraser MacDonald, for the FES team in Glenbranter, said:“This disease is fatal to larch and we need to remove affected trees, and nearby trees that are potentially already infected, to try and limit the disease spreading even further.
“There will be plenty of advisory signage in place with information on the disease and some of our ‘keep it Clean’ biosecurity advice about cleaning boots, walking poles and equipment when visitors leave the site.
“The spores that cause this disease can be carried to new sites in the mud on boots, wheels and paws, so it’s imperative that people take the time to ‘Keep it Clean’ and help us prevent the further spread of this disease.”
They said updates would be issued once the situation had been assessed following the emergency work.
Work is also underway after an outbreak in Galloway.
Large areas around Ae Forest, Clauchrie Forest and Mabie Forest are to be further cleared of larch to reduce its spread.
Hundreds of thousands of larch trees had to be cut down in Wales during the late 1990s and early 2000s after a similar outbreak.
WANT TO LEARN MORE? Read: Keep it clean, protect our forests
IMAGE CREDITS: Scottish Forest Enterprise