Deadly tree disease hits world renowned Highland garden

by | Jan 19, 2016 | Featured Slider, Latest, News

A world renowned Highland garden has been hit by the nationwide spread of a deadly tree disease. Thousands of trees are being felled at Inverewe, near Poolewe in Wester Ross, at a cost of £20,000 to owner, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS).

The NTS is removing larch trees affected by Phytophthora ramorum, and other susceptible host plants to prevent further spreading.

The work is being focused on an area located in the garden’s east shelterbelt.

Phytophthora ramorum, a pathogen better known as ‘sudden oak death’ or ‘Ramorum dieback’, can infest other types of trees, but is often referred to in Britain as ‘Larch tree disease’.

Larch trees are particularly susceptible, and large numbers have been affected across the country.

Staff at the garden, which was created from a barren landscape by Osgood Mackenzie in the 1860s, were made aware of the pathogen before Christmas.

The Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) notified the garden and issued two Statutory Plan Health Notices for the felling of the affected trees.

Tree health

NTS property manager for Inverewe, Kevin Frediani, said: “Responsible landowners, like the NTS, undertake regular visuals checks from the ground.

“However, it was through the work of Forestry Commission Scotland, who undertake regular aerial surveys to support our checks for outbreaks of the pathogen, which identified the outbreak which can be spread by airborne spores from place to place.

“Fortunately, the affected larch are not in a core part of the garden, though the shelterbelt will have to be re-planted with a less susceptible species in order to ensure the garden continues to be protected from harsh winds in future.

“We are required to fell the affected trees up to 820ft (250m) out as part of a containment zone, as well as removing Rhododendron ponticum in the vicinity that can also be infected.

“We will be able to do this using in-house teams by the February deadline, though the costs incurred to our charity will exceed £20,000.

“Our teams are working hard to ensure there will be very little impact on visitors or the overall integrity of Inverewe Garden, though we will be asking everyone to respect guidance which is designed to prevent any further infections or transference elsewhere.”

The source of the infection is unknown.