THOUSANDS of disease-ridden trees are being given the chop at two beauty spots near Sabden.
Forestry workers have moved in to fell 12,000 trees at Black Hill and Churn Clough after a fungus-like infection hit woodland. Phytophthora ramorum is particularly serious in larch trees and hopes are to stop the disease from spreading to other plants and trees.
Harvesters have axed 1,500 trees from Black Hill and removed 300 tonnes of timber. But Lancashire County Council says it is now launching an assault on woodland around Churn Clough Reservoir to bring down 10,000 infected trees over the next six weeks.
Nick Osborne, from Lancashire County Council, said: “Work has begun to remove diseased trees from woodlands near Sabden. Black Hill and Churn Clough have seen an infection spread through the woodlands, meaning an estimated 12,000 larch trees need to be felled to stop it spreading.
“The disease is caused by a fungus-like pathogen and is particularly serious in larch. Once infected, it can pass to other trees and garden plants, most of which will die.
“Work in Black Hill is pretty much complete although there are smaller areas of larch that cannot be reached by the harvesting machine. These will be dealt with over the next few weeks.
“Work has started in Churn Clough where 2,000 tonnes of timber will be removed – around 10,000 trees over the next five to six weeks.”
The path through Churn Clough is closed. But the path around the reservoir is open, however it will be used by forestry machinery and visitors are asked to take care and observe any signs or instructions from staff.
Infected timber is being handled by licenced processors and biosecurity measures are in place to reduce the chance of the disease spreading.
Mr Osborne said visitors can help by sticking to paths and keeping dogs under control, brushing mud off clothes and shoes before leaving the area and ensuring dogs do not carry sticks, twigs or needles home in their fur. He added the disease does not affect people or animals.
Lancashire County Council is to replant the felled areas with native trees and any footpath damage will be repaired.