THE first known case of a deadly tree disease in a Scottish conservation area has been found, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said today.
Saplings are set to be cut down at Balquhidderock Site of Special Scientific Interest in Stirling after tests confirmed that they were infected with chalara ash dieback.
The agency said that so far the disease had not been found in any older trees on the site, which is privately owned but managed by Stirling Council.
Susan Davies, SNH director of policy and advice, said: “Whilst not unexpected it is disappointing. We are working closely with Forestry Commission Scotland and others, including Stirling Council, to establish the scale of the infection and to implement the action required.
“Action is likely to involve the removal of smaller infected saplings but mature trees will be left, unless they pose an imminent safety risk.”
There are just over 100 recorded ash dieback cases among Scotland’s 10.7 million trees, with around 400 cases south of the Border.
Numbers are expected to rise as results of earlier samples from suspected sites are analysed. The disease has also lain dormant over the winter but could flourish in warmer weather.
The disease is spread by airborne spores and was first found in Scotland last summer, after being identified in England several months earlier.
It is believed to have spread to the UK from continental Europe both through the air and via imported saplings.