Coillte can confirm that Phytophthora ramorum, a fungal like disease has been detected on Japanese larch in Gougane Barra Forest Park. To prevent the further spread of the disease, control measures are being implemented in accordance with Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine protocols. Coillte estimate up to 16,000 trees, primarily Japanese larch will be felled and removed under licence from the site for processing at approved facilities.
The felling operation commenced on January 8 and following the felling the site will be replanted. The park will close for the duration of the process which Coillte estimate will take up to six months.
Coillte Forestry Productivity Manager Padraig O’ Tuama said, “Phytophthora ramorum is a fungus-like disease that can affect a range of tree and other plant species with Japanese larch particularly susceptible. Coillte have been working closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to detect and prevent the spread of this disease. Regrettably Gougane Barra is one of 20 Coillte forests where the disease has been confirmed in Japanese larch since first detected on the species in 2010.
“Felling the infected trees is the appropriate measure with the aim of preventing further spread by limiting spore production. If no action is taken the larch within the park would succumb to the disease over a short number of years and act as a source for further infection. Once the larch is cleared we will commence replanting with a range of different tree species including species such as Scots pine and oak.”
In late 2002, the EU introduced Emergency Measures to reduce the risk of Phytophthora ramorum of further introductions and spread into the EU. Under the legislation, surveys have been conducted annually by the Department. Prior to 2010, the disease had been detected only on ‘wild’ Rhododendron bushes growing in woodlands in this country. During this period, it has also often been detected in this country on imported commercial Rhododendron and other ornamental nursery stock.
Padraig O’Tuama continued, “Pure Japanese larch stands make up less than two per cent of the Coillte forest estate and to date Coillte have carried out felling on 150 ha of forest in an effort to contain and prevent the spread of this disease. Infected sites can range from recently planted areas to mature forests. Timber from infected Japanese larch can still be used, so after felling the logs will be taken under licence to authorised processing facilities under Departmental approval and appropriate biosecurity precautions are in place.