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LONDON, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Britain's at war with a tree disease threatening the country's forests on a scale not seen since Dutch elm disease wiped out million of trees, officials say.
Sudden oak death, Phytophthora ramorum, has affected almost 7,500 acres of forest in Wales, Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Northern Ireland, The Observer reported Sunday.
Authorities have embarked on a program to fell thousands of trees in an effort to stop the spread of the disease.
"The disease took us by surprise when it jumped species, and we don't understand why it's not in other species yet," Roddie Burgess of the Forestry Commission said. "Dealing with an organism that can do that, well, who knows where it will go next?"
"We know it's performing differently in this country to the way it performed in the United States, so it's unlikely this strain has come over from there; it's far more likely to have been imported from Asia, perhaps via Europe," Burgess said.
"I think we can forget eradicating it; we have to work with nature and we're going to have to live with it. The question is whether or not we're lucky and have a fighting chance at containing it."
On the Quantock Hills, 10,000 larch trees are being felled on National Trust woodland. Another 50,000 will be cut down on a plantation nearby.
About 2,000 hectares (200 million sq m) have been affected in the south west.
The airborne disease is highly contagious, and trees in Cornwall, Devon and south Wales have already been felled.
It has also spread to parts of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.
So far there is no known cure.
A plant disease caused by a fungus-like pathogen known as Phytophthora ramorum (P.ramorum), has been diagnosed on Japanese larch for the first time in Northern Ireland. DARD Forest Service Chief Executive, David Small, has confirmed three outbreaks of the disease in woodlands on the Antrim plateau. Around 200 hectares of public forest estate and a further four hectares of private woodland are affected.
To minimise the economic impact on the forest and timber industries, the Commission is permitting logs from felled infected trees to be moved to specially licensed sawmills, provided certain biosecurity measures are taken. These include stacking the logs on bearers to keep them off the ground while awaiting removal from the forest, and pressure washing timber trucks before they return to the road. Sawmill residues are also being destroyed or used as woodfuel.
Originally posted by Neurolanis
They wouldn’t explain the sudden outbreak of diseases though, would they?
A deadly tree and plant disease first found in the UK in 2002 has spread to Wales, the Forestry Commission says.