Saturday, 28 January 2017
Burning a pest
Another day, a different friend, another good (five mile) circular walk up the hill to Bingley St Ives, around the Coppice Pond and back. On the way we saw woodsmen (woodspeople?) burning rhododendrons. A notice said that this was Phytophthora Ramorum control, containment action ordered by DEFRA, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
I don't know anything about it, other than what I can find on good old Google. It says Phytophthora Ramorum is a fungal disease that affects trees: oaks in North America but conifers like larch are more usually affected here. It is spread by spores and infected trees have to be felled. Rhododendrons are apparently being cleared since they can be affected too. They are an attractive but also invasive pest in our woodlands and action has been taken for many years to try and limit their spread, but this fungal pathogen must have increased the urgency for defensive action. This area of England is high risk for the disease and the work that we observed at St Ives was in a grove of conifers.