More must be done to prevent the rampant spread of a devastating tree disease which is putting the country’s important forestry economy at risk, warn the Scottish Green Party.
Dothistroma Needle Blight (DNB) kills off varieties of pine tree and is predicted to thrive due to warmer, wetter conditions caused by climate change.
Over the past two decades there have been continued reports of new host for the DNB pathogens among new geographical areas, particularly in the northern hemisphere
BlightWebAlison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, has discovered trials of spraying chemicals from aircraft are planned for next year in a bid to find out how best to tackle the disease. Loss of forestry due to the condition is also reducing Scotland’s ability to store harmful carbon emissions.
Aberfeldy-based forestry adviser, Victor Clements, told Comment: "This is a major issue at the moment. Thankfully it mostly affects Lodgepole pine, which is a lower quality timber, but it is affecting Scots Pine in some areas as well.  It disrupts nurseries/planting plans in preventing spreading the problem around."
His photo here shows the effect of DNB among pine stands.

Adverse Economic Impact
In 2008 needle blight affected an estimated 132 hectares. Surveys have improved and the most recent figures suggest 11,500 hectares are now affected - an area the size of over 11,000 rugby pitches. North Highland, Moray and Aberdeenshire forest districts are worst affected.
Ministers have confirmed to Ms Johnstone that needle blight is “already having an adverse economic impact” as it has reduced timber values.
Alison said: “The Scottish forestry sector supports over 13,000 jobs and is worth almost half a billion pounds to the economy, so the threat posed by needle blight must be taken seriously. Woodlands are an important part of our natural and cultural heritage, and are vital public spaces that promote wellbeing and exercise.
“I welcome the assurance that annual surveys are to be carried out to gain a better understanding of the disease’s spread. I also welcome the proposed further work on its links with the climate. This issue shows why tackling climate change is an economic priority.”

 

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