Trees felled to tackle disease

Forestry Commission forester Albin Smith looks at plans for replanting areas of Cromford Moor, Derbyshire, where 3,500 trees are being felled early.

Forestry Commission forester Albin Smith looks at plans for replanting areas of Cromford Moor, Derbyshire, where 3,500 trees are being felled early.

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Over 3,000 trees covering 15 acres of Cromford Moor are set to be felled to beat a deadly disease.

The Forestry Commission is cutting down 3,500 trees as it fears many of them could have red band needle blight disease.

The disease is a fungus which particularly affects Corsican pine, stunting its growth and in some cases killing the tree.

Work is expected to start within weeks.

Forest chiefs say they want to tackle the disease now to enable the beauty spot to continue to thrive and the felling will not threaten the woodland.

Forester Albin Smith said: “There is no risk to the wood’s future or wildlife. Actually, mother nature will benefit as many animals do well in clear-felled areas, including the nocturnal nightjar, which nests in Cromford Moors and at just one other location in Derbyshire.

“Mixing up the age structure of trees also benefits plants and animals.”

Most of the 200 acre woodland – near Matlock – is made up of other trees including larch, fir and oak, which are unaffected.

Red band needle blight disease was first reported in the UK as far back as the 1950s, but it became a more serious problem from the late-1990s, spreading to many parts of the country, including Derbyshire.

Mr Smith said: “We will fell affected trees ten to 15 years earlier than planned and replant with Norway spruce and fir.

“The main impact of the disease is on timber production as Corsican pine is our main commercial crop.

“But by acting early we will maintain a good supply of wood – an important renewable source – in the long term.”

Another six hectares of woodland may also be felled later.

Most of the trees at Cromford Moor were planted after the Second World War to replenish the nation’s depleted timber reserves. Corsican pine was a good tree to grow for timber as it was suited to the local climate.

A long term blueprint for Cromford’s future is being implemented to broaden habitats and birds, reptiles and insects are all already benefiting from the 50 year plan.