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Leave the Forest in the Forest 26/07/2013

Natural Resources Wales has committed more than £2 million to help fight against a disease that is killing Britain's larch trees. Some 1,200 hectares (almost 3,000 acres) of larch trees have already been felled in Wales since the fungus-like organism, Phytophthora ramorum (P. ramorum), was first discovered here in June 2010.

As part of that fight Natural Resources Wales have launched a campaign 'Leave the Forest in the Forest', that calls on forest visitors to brush off twigs, leaves and any other forest debris from their clothes and cars when they visit any of their managed woodlands.

The video at the foot of the page urges mountain bikers to help stop the spread of tree diseases such as P. ramorum and ash dieback, by cleaning off any debris before they leave, by using a bike wash for example.

Dave Liddy of Natural Resources Wales, said: “Cleaning your bike is good for the bike, but it’s also good for the forest, too."

He added: “Our mountain bike trails are immensely popular and we want to encourage people to keep coming to our woodlands. Our message is a simple one. Enjoy yourselves, but please leave the forest in the forest.”

A further video is aimed at raising awareness of the issue among people who walk in the woods, horse riders or dog walkers.

The full scale of the spread beyond Welsh Government woodlands, to new sites in west, mid and north Wales emerged during aerial surveys last month, which provided the first opportunity to assess the trees as they come into leaf.

P. ramorum causes extensive damage and mortality to trees and other plants and was first identified in the mid-1990s as the cause of widespread devastation of wild oak trees in California and Oregon (which earned it the name 'Sudden oak death'). No cure has been found and there are no chemical treatments currently available that are effective against P. ramorum.

The Forestry Commission website states: "Evidence from California and Oregon indicates that P. ramorum can be spread over several miles in mists, air currents, watercourses and rainsplash. We also know that Phytophthora pathogens can be spread on footwear, dog paws, bicycle wheels, tools and equipment etc. Movement of infected plants is also a key means of spreading it over long distances.

Topic: Biosecurity, Natural Resources Wales, Leave the Forest in the Forest.

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