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Friends Of Luxulyan ValleyFriends Of Luxulyan ValleyFriends Of Luxulyan ValleyFriends Of Luxulyan ValleyFriends Of Luxulyan ValleyFriends Of Luxulyan Valley

Phytophthora

Phytophthora is a fungus-like disease of vegetation spread by spores. Its common name is ‘Sudden Oak Death’ but it is not confined to Oak. It will, in fact, attack a large number of species.  There are two main varieties: P. ramorum, which has existed in the USA and Europe for some years, and a new strain, originating in Cornwall – P. kernoviae.  The kernoviae strain is more virulent than ramorum.There are other varieties of Phytophthora, potato blight being a common one. P. ramorum and P. kernoviae are the two which are affecting a wide variety of native and non native shrubs and trees

The disease attacks many plants, particularly certain shrubs and trees, including those found in public and domestic gardens.  It will be appreciated that the effect on forestry, nurseries and ornamental gardens could be serious.  The trees are infected by contact with infected shrubs and in both cases the infection is usually fatal.  The presence of the disease has been detected in Luxulyan Valley.  The most common culprit as a primary host in the undergrowth is rhododendron.  For this reason; in 2008 contractors, working on behalf of DEFRA and Restormel Borough Council cleared large areas of rhododendrons in the valley. In 2009 it was confirmed that Phytophthora was found in the bilberry plants in the valley. Unlike the rhododendron the bilberry is a native plant, and so a huge amount of testing has been going on to try to prevent the bilberry facing the same fate.

FERA scientists (based in York) have now finished their experiments on the bilberry in the Luxulyan Valley, which is a primary host (i.e. not contracting it from rhododendron but getting it direct), to try and find out more about this disease and how it can be controlled and/or eradicated. Sadly FERA  have concluded that the only way of halting its spread is to eradicate infected bilberry from the valley by means of cutting, burning and spraying of infected re-growth. This work is due to commence in October 2012 and will involve a team of people working in the Carmears Oak woodland carrying out this work.

Although this work should not affect access along footpaths the cutting and clearance (burning or removal from site) will take place in October, while the spraying will take place during summer 2013 when the infection should be visible on the new growth.

 

How can you help?

Naturally we are concerned that your enjoyment of the valley is not spoiled.  However, by taking certain precautions now, we can help prevent the further spread of the disease and also preserve the health of the trees and other vegetation in the valley itself.  For the foreseeable future, therefore, we request that you observe the following guidelines:
 

  • Park in recognised car parks
  • Keep yourself and any dogs to footpaths.  This may involve keeping the dog on a lead. We know this is a blow but it may prevent more stringent controls being imposed.
  • As far as possible clean boots before and after visiting the Valley.  This will help to prevent the spread of the infection to other places including your own garden.
  • Do not bring in or take out cuttings of any shrubs or trees.

Bio-security measures will be on going for the foreseeable future.

We hope that observance of these guidelines, at this stage, will be all that is necessary.  We would hate to see restrictions on access.

Please do all you can to comply.  For further information please visit the websites of DEFRA, The Forestry Commission or Cornwall Council (See ‘Links’) Thanks for your help.

This item updated: 3rd October 2012