Health watch update

There are many diseases and pests that can decimate trees, woodland and farmland. Some of the threats have hit the headlines over the years, such as the recent outbreak of chalara ash dieback. However there are many other threats to our plant and animal life that people might not be so familiar with.

On these pages, we'll keep you updated with what to look out for and where to go for further information.

Keep our countryside safe

Remember, we all have a part to play in keeping our countryside safe. To prevent the spread of diseases and pests, clean boots and vehicles, and groom pets before entering farmland or woodland. Read more about biosecurity threats.

Dangerous Plants -Update 2015

Rural rambles can bring perils. While most plants that grow in the UK Countryside are harmless, some sting, scratch or are poisonous.

Keep your family safe by reading this guide to plant hazards, and find out what to do if someone is affected; 

Dangerous Diseases- Update 2015

Strangles is one of the most common equine diseases in horses in the UK. It is a highly contagious infection of the upper respiratory tract caused by a bacteria
Read more at  


Plant health update - autumn/winter 2014

Ramorum disease / sudden oak death - Phytothphora ramorum

Phytophthora ramorum (Pr) is a fungus-like pathogen known to affect more than 150 plant and tree species. First identified in Great Britain in 2002, it initially infected mostly shrub species such as rhododendron and viburnum, and few trees.

Phytophthora Ramorum

This particularly nasty pathogen has done considerable damage in North America to the oak tree population, hence the more common name of 'sudden oak death'. Fortunately the native Oaks in the British Isles are currently not susceptible to the pathogen.

One of the hosts is rhododendron, which though not usually killed, will produce a considerable volume of pathogen spores. The pathogen has been identified in rhododendron within woodland at Upper Cumberworth.

Tree species most at risk on the Estate are beech, and sweet and horse chestnut. Nationally considerable volumes of larch have had to be felled, which currently is the tree most susceptible to the ramorum.

The pathogen can be spread by water, which is not a primary concern at Farnley, vehicle tyres, footwear and within the pads of dogs. Basic hygiene, including cleaning boots when leaving a woodland area, toweling dogs' feet and, if possible, leaving woodland areas without leaf mould on car and vehicle tyres.

To identify potential areas of infection, the Forestry Commission Plant Health is undertaking aerial surveys of areas that include Yorkshire and North East. They are also asking everyone to be vigilant and report any signs of infection to the Forestry Commission. Find out more about Ramorum disease.


Ash dieback - Chalara fraxinea

Chalara dieback of ash is disease caused by a fungus called Chalara fraxinea. The disease symptoms include leaf wilt and loss, twig and branch dieback, bark lesions and timber staining. Young trees are particularly susceptible but evidence suggests more mature trees can survive for a number of years.

At present, the Forestry Comm0ission plant health teams are continuing to survey areas with previously confirmed widespread outbreaks. In Yorkshire and North East new cases have been found in Northumberland, East Yorkshire and western North Yorkshire.

Discover more about ash dieback on the Forestry Commission website. Suspected infections should be reported using the Tree Alert app at

Great Spruce Bark Beetle - Dendroctonus micans

Found in forests throughout continental Europe, the Great Spruce Bark Beetle damages spruce trees by tunnelling into the bark to lay its eggs. The larvae feed on the inner woody layers, weakening and sometimes killing the tree.

Since it was accidently introduced into this country in the 1980s, this pest has become established in the west of England and Wales. It has recently spread into southern Scotland and infestations have been discovered in a woodland in the Yorkshire Dales. Find out more about the Great Spruce Bark Beetle and how to spot infestation by visiting the Forestry Commission website.

DENDROCTONUS MICANS .  Fully mature adult beetle . Location: Mortimer Forest , Shropshire , England .








The Great Spruce Bark Beetle