Warning of threats to our native species – October 2012

Save Sherwood Forest logoDue to the recent concerns about the threat to native tree species, particularly our native ash trees, Nottinghamshire campaign group, Save Sherwood Forest, has warned that cuts in Forestry Commission staffing could hamper work to monitor pests and diseases in Sherwood Forest.

Members of the campaign group have written to the organisations responsible for managing areas of Sherwood Forest in order to establish whether or not there are sufficient staff and resources in place to deal with any outbreak that may occur.

Campaign spokesperson Bob Thacker said: “The issue of ‘ash dieback’ has shown that more resources are needed to tackle tree diseases. We are concerned that the emergency focus on that disease could cause people to take their eye off the ball with diseases that threaten oak and pine forests in Nottinghamshire.

“We have asked the Forestry Commission for assurance that they are still committing resources to monitor and respond to pests and diseases in the Sherwood Forest area. If they can’t give that assurance we will be calling on the government to increase funding for this work.”

Background to the disease

Please see the Forestry Commission website for information about the main threats to the health of our native trees: www.forestry.gov.uk/pestsanddiseases

The main indigenous trees in Sherwood Forest are oak and birch. None-native species include pine, beech and sycamore.

There are particular current concerns about:

  • Oak processionary moth:  Outbreaks around London but nowhere else yet apart from an isolated case in Sheffield from a Dutch import;
  • Asian longhorn beetle:  A threat to broadleaf trees generally, which has only so far been found in Kent;
  • Phytophthora ramorum:  Originally in rhododendron but has spread to Japanese Larch from which it can spread to other trees including oak and birch, it has so far been found in South West England, Wales, Ireland and West Scotland.

Original email to the Forestry Commission, Defra, Natural England, Notts Wildlife Trust and Nottinghamshire County Council

As a local campaign to ‘Save Sherwood Forest’ we are concerned about the capacity of the Forestry Commission and others to monitor and protect our woodland areas in Nottinghamshire, including those not directly managed by the Forestry Commission.

It would appear that the Forestry Commission failed to adequately identify the threat of ‘ash dieback’ in 2009 (though this may have been, in part, due to inadequate scientific analysis in the countries experiencing the disease at that time). This raises questions about whether the resources available to the Forestry Commission to monitor and respond to pests and diseases are adequate.

We understand the need to focus on ash dieback currently. However, we are concerned that resources should not be diverted away from monitoring other diseases. You will be well aware that continual vigilance is needed to ensure that problems such as the Oak processionary moth, Asian longhorn beetle, P. ramorum and others are not allowed to spread.

Can you please let us know what resources you currently have to monitor and respond to pests and diseases within Nottinghamshire and the Sherwood Forest area:

(a)  in traditional oak forests such as the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve;

(b)  in managed plantations such as Sherwood Pines;

(c)  other woodland areas in Nottinghamshire.

Yours sincerely, etc

Download the PDF of this press release here:  SSF_Threats_October2012

This was covered by the Nottingham Post and be read here

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