The Green Lane Association (GLASS) is urging green laners to show restraint on certain routes in South Wales to prevent the spread of a deadly tree disease.
The disease is caused by Phytophthora Ramorum and was confirmed during May 2010 in woodlands managed by the Forestry Commission on behalf of the Welsh Assembly. The fungus like pathogen kills most trees that it infects and whilst it is the cause of Sudden Oak Death syndrome in the USA, our own native Oaks are generally resistant to the pathogen. However in this case it is infecting Japanese Larch Trees in the Afan Valley near Port Talbot, the Garw Valley near Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan. Strict Biosecurity measures are in place to try and stop the spread of infection to other woodlands. 4x4 drivers out green laning could easily spread the infection from one area to another as it is carried in soil that sticks to vehicles or by larch needles.
GLASS is therefore asking its members and all other green laners to take a responsible approach and to avoid using byways and unsurfaced public roads through infected woodlands whilst the current measures are in place. Signs at forest entrances tell visitors what they need to do to help contain the outbreak such as walking on paths, keeping dogs on leads, cleaning footwear and not taking any plant material away. The presence of these signs at road ends easily will identify infected areas.
This advice has been given because of the difficulty of adequately cleaning a vehicle out in the countryside. Current advice from the Forestry Commission is that vehicles that have been off tarmac or stoned tracks in an infected area should be power washed on a hard standing, preferably with hot water and then disinfected before rejoining the road network. The water must not be allowed to enter water courses. As this will be impossible to achieve on a green lane trip and the likelihood is that vehicles will then travel to other woodlands, it is felt that a system of voluntary restraint is the best measure we can take as responsible countryside users. Phytophthora Ramorum is not harmful to humans or animals.
The Green Lane Association (GLASS) is the National user group for those who enjoy using the Country’s network of ancient unsurfaced public roads and vehicular rights of way. It is a not for profit association dedicated to driving, protecting and researching our unique heritage of unsurfaced public highways. We promote legal and responsible driving as a way of enjoying the countryside especially for those who are less mobile and we campaign against irresponsible use.
For more information on the current outbreak of Phytophthora Ramorum see the Forestry Commission’s website www.forestry.gov.uk or click here for Forestry