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Tree health problems on Mull

A second meeting with forestry owners on Mull and FCS, which was aimed at finding a way forward in tackling tree health issues, was held on the island on Tuesday.  Senior Policy Officer, Anne Gray went over to support our members.

Of particular concern is an outbreak of Phytophthora Ramorum in larch and rhododendron.  The first Statutory Plant Health notices on Mull requiring removal of larch and rhododendron were issued towards the end of 2016.  Forestry Commission Scotland (FSC) held a first meeting on the island in February, after concerns were expressed by owners on Mull (who mostly do not run commercial forestry operations, but have amenity woodland) that they were incurring a great deal of cost removing these species, and did not understand the rationale for the Government’s action.

By the second meeting this week, the situation in terms of the Government’s approach to tree health was much clearer to the owners and the Commission were also able to give some encouraging news in terms of changes to the Forestry Grant Scheme, which would benefit those tackling these type of issues, particularly those on islands.  What is apparent from the meetings is that the owners on Mull have a strong desire to work with the FSC to find solutions, but they also need support to do this.

FSC are carrying out their spring helicopter surveys at the moment and will then send in ground teams to further explore anything that from the air might suggest there is a tree health problem.  A further meeting will be held on Mull once this ground-truthing work has been complete.  This is likely to be early July.


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