Dealing with disease in Galloway Forest Park
- Monday, 27 April 2015
Glentrool Visitor Centre as it was before the impact of Phytophthora ramorum ... and (below) after sanitation felling.
Visitors to Forestry Commission Scotland’s key sites in Galloway Forest Park cannot help but have noticed the dramatic changes to the landscape, especially around their favourite visitor centres at Kirroughtree and Glentrool, and along the A712 Queen’s Way.
Significant amounts of larch tree felling – the only effective response to the disease Phytophthora ramorum - has changed the look and feel of these centres and the forests around them so much that it has shocked and angered many people – not the least of whom are the foresters themselves.
But according to Keith Muir, the Commission’s recreation and tourism manager for the area, this public reaction is understandable because people are emotionally attached to these forests and are only now seeing with their own eyes the true impact that the disease has had on the area.
Here, Keith explains more about the situation and what the Commission is doing to remedy it.
Q: Why have so many trees been cut down?
Essentially because so many trees have been infected and killed by the disease. They are not attractive to look at but more importantly, if the diseased trees are not felled and removed then the disease that they carry has a chance to move on to other areas and healthy trees.
Q: Felling all of the trees is a bit drastic and is pretty close to environmental vandalism.
I can appreciate people thinking this – it’s a normal reaction when we carry out any large scale felling. But our forests aren’t just for recreation - they are working, timber producing forests and every now and again we will fell large areas. It’s made even more noticeable by the fact that the Larch had let in lots of light to the recreation areas which meant there was also a great range of flowers and ferns to walk amongst. There were also many very large trees that we had let grow on past their commercial life span that made the walks we have even more impressive.
Q: Could the trees not have been left in place or removed more gradually?
Unfortunately, we really had no choice but to tackle this head on. Even though many trees have already died, there are still a great many in the infectious stages of the disease and the more quickly these are felled the better our chances of keeping other nearby forests healthier for longer. Leaving these trees in place can also create a public safety issue as branches and tree tops, over the course of a year or so, may weaken and break off.
Q: Do you realise how upset some people are about all of the trees being felled?
Absolutely. People find forests to be very calming and relaxing places and they get very emotionally attached to their favourite woods so we understand how upsetting this can be for some. And we foresters are as devastated as anyone about what we have had to do – many of us have put in years of work to make Galloway Forest Park an amazing resource for communities, wildlife and visitors and to see all of that care and effort wiped out by this disease is heart breaking.
Q: Will we be stopped from going into the woods?
Absolutely not. Galloway Forest Park remains open for business and visitors are as welcome as they have always been. We would urge everyone to observe safety signage when we are felling but most of all we would ask that before visiting any forest, anywhere, people make sure that they’ve cleaned their shoes, their bike and their four legged friend. Remember, dirt carried on footwear, wheels and animals can spread tree diseases from one place to another so we really want visitors to “Keep it clean”.
Q: What are you doing to improve the landscape at these sites?
We’ll do some tidy-up work initially – and while this might still look untidy for a time the wood and branches that we’ll leave will provide valuable habitats and nutrients for new trees and other plants. Larch has very light branches so the normal debris left after felling will rot away very quickly and the felled areas will soon start to green up as other vegetation comes through. It will take time for trees to reappear and we’ll take the opportunity to apply modern techniques and approaches to forestry to keep the forest as diverse as possible while still delivering all the timber that businesses and individuals need.
Q: What about replanting?
The choice of trees we replant with is going to be diverse. It will include species such as Scots pine, oak, birch, rowan, aspen and some other spruce species but we will be looking to give a longer term crop to any areas directly impacting on recreational areas. We usually leave felled sites for three years before replanting. In this time we’ll have the opportunity to come up with the right mix of species for each site with a view to ensuring that in years to come, the forests around the Visitor Centres will offer a range of incredible views and experiences at different times of the year.
Q: Is there any good news?
As foresters, we are used to seizing these moments and turning them to our advantage. We are already looking at the wider landscape and deciding what species we will be planting at each location and we’ve also taken the opportunity to realign a path route to make it far better for walkers and we will have that ready for the summer. We’ll also take the chance to think about retaining some of the views that have been opened up by the felling, so that visitors will eventually have an even more satisfying experience of the Forest Park.
Q: How long will it take to recover?
It will obviously take a long time for the forest to recover at these sites but in the short term, things will begin to look green again fairly quickly and within about a good ten years or so before we see young trees established at these sites. Remember, nature is resilient and forests are tough - they can bounce back from large-scale disturbance by wind, fire, insect attack or disease. Galloway Forest Park has a great future.
Q: What is going to happen with all damaged trails?
As visitors have already found, when trees and trails are so closely intertwined then felling like this inevitable means disruption. The felling teams will sometimes place cut logs across trails to prevent them from being damaged from the heavy machinery that is in use but sometimes there is no other way than to travel across or along the actual trail itself, which can result in damage. Normally we would fix any such damage straight away but with so much felling going on it will take us some time to get all the trails reopened and then back up to the high standard that visitors are accustomed to. We have a small team and limited resources so I’d ask people to bear with us.
BACKGROUND: Phytophthora ramorum is a disease that affects more than 150 plant species but which is especially destructive on Larch trees, which were common across Galloway. The disease arrived in the area 4 years ago and it spread very, very quickly. It was so virulent that once infected larch were dead within a year.
More information about Phytophthora ramorum in Scotland.
Notes to editors
- Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment and Forestry Directorate.
- Tha FCS pàirt de Bhuidheann-Stiùiridh Àrainneachd is Coilltearachd aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba; a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìon, a' cumail smachd air, agus a' leudachadh choilltean gus buannachdan a choileanadh dha coimhearsnachdan, dhan eaconamaidh agus ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh sa ghnàth-shìde.
20/03: Uncovering the past in Sallochy’s oak woodlands
15/03: Vandals threatening other people’s safety
08/03: New good-practice guides to prevent diffuse pollution in forests
01/03: Previous woodland winners urge new entrants to ‘go for it’ in 2017
28/02: Funding boost for native woodland creation in north Scotland
23/02: New online tool makes broadleaves management easier
21/02: £5m boost for Timber Transport Funding
20/02: Treat Your Dog to a Walk in the Woods
16/02: Join Forestry Commission Scotland's Voluntary Community Champion Programme
16/02: Have a Blooming Good Time in the Woodlands
10/02: New shoots for forest planting
06/02: Galloway to host major Dark Sky conference
01/02: Bennachie trails works
22/12: Paths make easier access to Foggieton Woods
22/12: Rotary volunteers bring Christmas good cheer
15/12: Acorn collection will help transform Galloway’s ancient woodlands
13/12: A toast to the past
13/12: Get Back to Tradition and Use Nature’s Own Decorations for Your Tree
12/12: Hunt on for Scotland's Finest Woods 2017
12/12: Forest Watch – tackling crime in Galloway’s forests
08/12: Tyrebagger Rotary volunteers raise funds for good causes
07/12: Conifer Conservation Programme trees stolen
06/12: Public urged to help slow the spread of tree diseases
05/12: Enjoy the Commonwealth Woods this Winter
02/12: SRUC signs up to national wildcat conservation project
28/11: Tree disease tackled in Mabie Forest
22/11: Central belt woodlands to discover in National Tree Week
21/11: Teamwork tackles invasive trees in Oakwood
21/11: Christmas tree magic at Tyrebagger
21/11: Find the perfect tree this Christmas
18/11: Experience Cuningar Loop in a Different Light this Winter
11/11: Norwegian veterans remember fallen comrades at Glenmore
08/11: 10 Reasons why you should visit Callendar Woods this winter
07/11: Play in the Dark Returns to Castlemilk Park
04/11: Evolve Sculpture Installed at Cuningar Loop
03/11: New Forest Ranger for Forest Enterprise Scotland
02/11: Transforming landfill to community woodland in Glasgow
01/11: A82 Loch Ness - Primrose Bay felling to commence
01/11: Explore the Red Squirrel Trail at Devilla
20/10: Celebrating the Pumpkin Festival at Castlemilk Park
17/10: Economic boost for Argyll timber
05/10: Grampian Regional Forestry Forum seeks new chair
04/10: Discover the Tastes and Tales from India
04/10: Lodge House activity hub ready for business
03/10: Celebrating 20 years of volunteering
23/09: Felling operations to tackle tree disease
16/09: Interactive adventure teaches forest safety
15/09: New east Scotland findings of tree disease
09/09: Forest barriers to stop overnight stays
08/09: Keep It Clean – help save Scotland’s forests
06/09: Forestry report highlights room for growth
29/07: Timber lorries to avoid Skye community
29/07: Safety drive for forest visitors
28/07: National forest estate offers ideal habitats for Scottish Wildcats.
25/07: Road closure opens up Countesswells alternatives
20/07: Give your views on Deeside woods' future
20/07: Aberdeenshire forest fun sessions
18/07: Painting a picture of the past
15/07: Drop-in events explain next phase of A82 harvesting works
12/07: Tobermory Harbour Association looks to buy land, pier and buildings at Aros Park
12/07: Dalavich Improvement Group Applies to NFLS for Land around Dalavich and Kilmun
12/07: Forest Enterprise Scotland North Highlands team wins SFWA for innovation
11/07: Will you complete the Cuningar Challenge this summer?
07/07: Large increase in capercaillie numbers wins prestigious award for Forest Enterprise Scotland
05/07: Ex Forestry Chief wins Deer award
01/07: Clear-fell sites a secret haven for biodiversity
21/06: Lochgoilhead community invests in hydro project
20/06: Fun in the Forest at Boden Boo
20/06: Community Forest Party at Whitby Street Woodland
19/06: Monster new mtb skills area for Fochabers
10/06: Scottish pine martens reviving Welsh cousins' fortunes
06/06: Foresters canoe the great glen to save lives – with trees
01/06: The Picts – shortlisted for top UK archaeology award
24/03: Forest Enterprise Scotland comes to the aid of giant tortoises
23/03: Children in East Dunbartonshire to gain outdoor learning experience
21/03: Easter Extravaganza put on hold
21/03: Upland section of John Muir Way now open
17/03: Increase in woodfuel cuts back on carbon emissions
17/03: Family Forestry Fun at Boden Boo
17/03: Celebrate the start of spring at Malls Mire Community Woodland
16/03: UN International Day of Forests Event
16/03: Hazardous Loch Lochy forest ops force over-run
16/03: Cairngorms project aims to forge a trail
14/03: Report reveals National Forest Estate delivers for Scotland
11/03: Perth and Argyll Regional Forestry Forum up to full strength
10/03: Rural communities to benefit from multi-million timber transport fund
08/03: ‘Leaf Room’ garden exhibition to welcome visitors at Ninewells
07/03: Nevis Forest and Mountain Resort vision takes further steps forward
04/03: Path repairs underway as felling completed – Callendar Wood
26/02: Volunteer Community Champion Programme Secures Funding
23/02: Help shape Balcorrach Wood
17/02: Callendar Wood Open Day – Saturday 20th February
08/02: Primrose Bay catch-fencing work begins
05/02: Art and archaeology combined!
02/02: Temporary road closure on A72
20/01: New members to help oversee Forestry Commission Scotland
20/01: Central Scotland Regional Forestry Forum seeks new chair
20/01: Woodland walkers mud warning
15/01: Application deadline approaches for Scotland's Finest Woods Awards
13/01: Forestry machinery demo to help boost small scale businesses
12/01: Waverley paddle steamer finds new masts in Perthshire
08/01: Delay for opening of new MtB skills area at Winding Walks, Fochabers
08/01: Weather damage results in woodland caution call
21/12: Machines demo to help boost small scale harvesting
21/12: Glen Affric wins another 'World's Best' title
18/12: New Head of Estates Development
11/12: Tentsmuir Forest car park re-opens
10/12: Perth & Argyll Regional Forestry Forum seeks new members
01/12: North Sutherland community aims to buy land at Forsinain
26/11: Forest fairies help nursery children find perfect tree
26/11: New MtB skills area at Winding Walks, Fochabers
26/11: Step up for Productive Broadleaves
23/11: Christmas tree sales centre set to open for business
17/11: Initiative with Kew Gardens to Protect Scotland’s Trees Takes Root
16/11: Hunt on for Scotland's finest woods
16/11: Hunt on for Winning Woods
16/11: Tentsmuir Forest car park closed for tree felling
06/11: Boost for outdoor enthusiasts at River Orchy
27/10: Guidance to boost community use of Scotland’s National Forest Estate
23/10: Cuningar Loop open at weekends
23/10: Vandalism could have long-term impact on visitor experience
23/10: Dunnottar Woods felling – public urged to stay safe
22/10: RSPB Scotland applies to buy land at Dyke Plantation, North Sutherland
22/10: Grampian Regional Forestry Forum seeks new members
20/10: Tree Felling at Sutherland’s Grove
19/10: A82 felling work moves to Loch Lochy
16/10: Consultation on ten-year plans for Aberdeenshire forests
13/10: New Reserve hailed as “jewel in the crown” by Minister
09/10: Top chainsaw carvers confirmed for Peebles Wood Market
05/10: Galloway Forest Park gets even greener
05/10: P.ramorum disease found in Angus and Perthshire
24/09: Argyll OWL takes flight
23/09: Tayside OWL Group takes wing
22/09: Galloway’s forest tourism in the spotlight
21/09: Keep it Clean campaign launched to keep trees healthy
21/09: Upgraded Scolty paths re-open
21/09: Bennachie picnic tables spruced-up
21/09: Consultation update for Lesmoir Land Management Plan
17/09: Warning over unstable trees at Tentsmuir car park
15/09: Chalara takes hold but the battle goes on
14/09: A82 felling work reaches key milestone
09/09: New Chair for Forestry Forum in Highland and Islands
07/09: Barracks sale to boost woodland creation and starter farms
04/09: New grants for woodland owners in Central Scotland
03/09: Queen’s View Visitor Centre shortlisted for award
01/09: Keep it Clean campaign launched to boost biosecurity
18/08: Comments invited on Glen Urquhart plan
13/08: A83 Tree felling work at Glen Croe
12/08: Deer sculpture created by local community installed at Cuningar Loop
12/08: Scolty Woods path works diversions in place
11/08: Fife sea eagle chick gets set to fly the nest
05/08: Young eagle flies the nest
04/08: Opening up Iron-Age views
28/07: Helicopter used to complete section of John Muir Way
27/07: Architectural design competition for Garden Room at Ninewells Community Garden
27/07: Orienteering world championships put Affric on global stage
20/07: A82 Loch Ness Harvesting Operations
16/07: Community benefits from £300k road upgrade
14/07: Forest Landscape Design training course to re-run
10/07: Orienteering World Championships put Affric on global stage
03/07: Additional week required to ensure safer slope
29/06: Sale talks to continue over woodland at Carbisdale
26/06: Locals help to clean-up Old Mine Nature Park
19/06: Environment Minister announces woodland winners 2015
19/06: Changing face of modern forestry
15/06: Felling works at Kilpatrick Hills
15/06: Deep peat practice guide launched
12/06: Locals invited to Old Mine Nature Park action day
12/06: Pupils teach environmental message
09/06: New forest manager for Dumfries & Borders
05/06: Clean up your dog's mess
04/06: Resumption of aerial application of fungicide trial in Millbuie forest, Black Isle
03/06: Licences required for felling trees, warns Forestry Commission
02/06: Volunteer day in Aberdeen woodland
01/06: Woodland activity programme helps people with early-stage dementia
27/05: Morvern Community Development Company Ltd apply to NFLS
27/05: A82 rock fall site gets more permanent solution
27/05: Call for help to combat spread of tree disease
27/05: Glenmore litter pick cleans up
21/05: New bridge aids access around Loch Morlich
21/05: Tyrebagger re-opens as works completed
19/05: Commission's Loch Lomond campsite open for the season
13/05: Chalara found in the wider environment in the sheltered area of northwest Scotland
13/05: Busy eagles signal the arrival of chicks
12/05: Community inspired park for the heart of Glasgow
06/05: Cattle return to Glen Affric
06/05: New films highlight water management on forestry sites
06/05: Consultation updates on Culdrain and Ittingstone
01/05: Landfill site transformed into new woodland for the Linwood community
01/05: New ranger for Fife and Clackmannanshire
28/04: Woodland advice for local farmers at Neilston Show
27/04: Dealing with disease in Galloway Forest Park
27/04: Gordon scoops award for disability work
27/04: New community ranger for Glasgow East
24/04: Boost for outdoor learning in Scotland
22/04: Public urged to stay safe during felling operation
21/04: Upper Eskdale Development Group makes application to National Forest Land Scheme
21/04: Woodland camera class for beginners
17/04: New Long Distance trail leads through history
17/04: Mull and Iona Community Trust apply to buy piece of Ardmore Forest
17/04: Putting your best foot forward
10/04: Foresters frustrated at criminals at Scolty
09/04: New season opens for eagle viewing on Mull
07/04: Cuningar Loop artist teaches tricks of the trade
02/04: Taking timber traffic off public roads
01/04: Bennachie Discovery Day
01/04: George McRobbie appointed Forestry Commissioner
01/04: Your Forest Needs You
31/03: Scottish Woodfuel sector update meeting
30/03: A new vision for Kilpatrick Hills
27/03: Glen Righ forest op’s progressing well
27/03: Calls for responsible dog behaviour at Lennox Forest
27/03: Entrance works at Boden Boo complete
23/03: New caterers for Glentrool visitor centre
20/03: Bronze Age tech applied to Curriculum for Excellence
20/03: Come and join the Forestry Commission’s Easter Eggstravaganza
15/03: Rapid response to re-open A82 – but Commission warns of long road ahead
14/03: Work to re-open A82 is on schedule
13/03: Forestry Commission Scotland presses on with long term programme to protect A82
12/03: Pupils stargaze the solar eclipse
09/03: Thinning works to improve Lord Ancrum’s Wood
09/03: A new vision for Carron Valley
06/03: More outdoor play for children in central Scotland