Trees felled in Devon and Cornwall amid disease scare

Thousands of trees are starting to be felled in Devon and Cornwall because of the spread of a deadly disease.

Infected trees were first found in the South West in 2009 but helicopter surveys have shown the disease has spread more rapidly than expected.

Landownes are asked to be vigilant about so-called Sudden Oak Death and report any suspected outbreaks.

Felling has started at the Glynn Valley in Cornwall, one of 40 suspect sites in Devon and Cornwall.

Chris Marrow, from the Forestry Commission, said: "We've had to abandon several of our programmed pieces of work to be able to concentrate on this.

"I can't see it ending any time soon. We have to get this disease under control."

Felling infected trees will continue in Plym Woods on the edge of Plymouth and Lydford on the edge of Dartmoor.

Felling will also soon start at Burrator Reservoir on Dartmoor.

The Forestry Commission is urging landowners to be vigilant and report any discoloured or dead trees on their woodland.

The organism, Phytophthora ramorum, gets its common name because it kills many of the trees and plants that it infects, the commission explained.

Symptoms include large growths on the tree's trunk and dying foliage, in many cases eventually leading to the death of the tree.

It was first identified eight years ago on a viburnum plant at a garden centre and has since infected shrubs including rhododendrons, viburnum and bilberries.

In 2009 Japanese larch trees in south west England were found to be infected.

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