Phytophthora ramorum in Scotland

First found in Scottish plant nurseries in 2002 and in gardens/parks in 2007, Phytophthora ramorum (‘Ramorum’) is causing extensive damage and mortality to larch trees and other plants in (mainly) the wetter west of Scotland.

In 2010, it was found on Japanese larch at a site on the Craignish peninsula in western Scotland. In 2011, further sites of infection were detected on Mull and at several locations in Dumfries and Galloway.

Since then the disease has spread to a number of new, relatively localised sites with the exception of south west Scotland where particularly favourable weather conditions in 2012 led to a major surge in the scale and intensity of infection resulting in the designation of a Management Zone (see below).

In Great Britain, three larch risk zones (PDF 1.65MB) have been identified, with Zone 1 being at the greatest risk of infection and Zone 3 at least risk.

Management zone

By the end of 2013, approximately 5000-6000 hectares of larch was thought to be infected within a core area – now designated as the 'Management Zone' – centred on south west Scotland.

New outbreaks

Outside this core area, sporadic infections have continued to occur, each of which has been served with Statutory Plant Health Notices (SPHNs) requiring the felling of infected larch stands as well as all larch in a buffer area around them. Although these new sites have mainly been close to existing infections, in late summer 2015 five new outbreaks on larch outside Zone 1 were detected (three near Forfar and Dundee, one between Perth and Crieff, and one on Raasay). Climate data is now being re-analysed to determine if these outbreaks signal a need to amend Zone boundaries in Scotland.

Update map

The Phytophthora ramorum update map (PDF 532KB) (updated 11 August 2017) shows the disease's progression and is regularly updated.

Action plan

Ramorum (on larch) action plan for Scotland (PDF 1.75MB), last updated in 2015.

Visiting woodlands in Scotland

The countryside remains very much open for visitors. Access to woodlands in Scotland is only likely to be restricted for safety reasons, such as at sites where active felling operations are underway. However, to help us limit the spread of the disease we need your help.

The most important thing you can do is clean up. Before visiting any forest, anywhere, just make sure you’ve cleaned your shoes, your bike and your dog. This will minimise the risk of introducing or spreading pests and diseases.

Remember: dirt carried on footwear, wheels and animals can spread tree diseases from one place to another.

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