Sweet chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica)
Following an outbreak of Sweet chestnut blight in Devon, UK plant health authorities – the Forestry Commission and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) – are imposing a prohibition on the movement of sweet chestnut material including plants, logs, branches, foliage and firewood out of, or within, six zones. Five of these zones are in Devon and one is in Dorset.
The other four Demarcated Areas will replace larger zones imposed in February and March 2017. The UK plant health authorities have reduced the boundaries of these original zones based on the latest evidence and maps of the four, new, smaller zones can be found here: Demarcated Areas 1, Demarcated Area 2, Demarcated Area 3, Demarcated Area 4.
Sweet chestnut blight, caused by a fungus called Cryphonectria parasitica does not pose any risk to people, pets or livestock, and is only known to seriously affect sweet chestnut (Castanea) species. Although the fungus can occasionally affect oak trees, usually when they are standing very close to heavily infected sweet chestnut trees, it does little damage to them. It does not affect horse chestnut (Aesculus) species.
The prohibition on movement is implemented by The Plant Health (Sweet Chestnut Blight) (England) Order 178/2017. The original prohibition came into force on 21 February 2017, and applied from Friday 24 February. This legislation is a precaution to prevent the spread of the disease further afield.
The prohibitions on movement will make it illegal to move sweet chestnut material including plants, logs, branches, foliage and firewood out of, or inside, zones within a 2 kilometre (1.24 mile) radius of sites in Devon and Dorset, where sweet chestnut blight has been found. These restrictions also apply to oak within 1 kilometre (0.62 mile) of the same sites.
The prohibition zones will remain in place until further notice but is subject to review following future monitoring in the zones. The Forestry Commission and the APHA are continuing their investigation into the extent of the outbreak, which was discovered in December 2016, and this work may result in more zones being established. Further advice may follow as the situation develops.
Exceptions to this movement prohibition include oak or sweet chestnut material entering and exiting the zones without stopping. For example, the delivery of plants, logs or firewood which start and end their journeys outside the zones is permitted. Exceptions may also be granted in certain circumstances by the Forestry Commission, in the case of woodland sites, or by the APHA Plant Health & Seeds Inspectorate, for horticultural requests.
Local woodland and business owners and managers who need further information may contact the Forestry Commission’s South West England Area office by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0300 067 4960. The horticulture trade, garden centres and householders should contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s Plant Health & Seeds Inspectorate by telephoning 01904 405138 or by emailing email@example.com.