A potential outbreak of Phytophthora ramorum has been identified by Staffordshire County Council in Brocton Coppice, Cannock Chase *. The exact extent of the infection is not yet known. Otherwise known as Sudden Oak Death *, this relation to potato blight is a virulent and deadly fungal type infection that is spread by spores. These can be spread on clothes, animal fur, and in soil on boots, tyres etc.
Phytophthora ramorum attacks a range of species including oak, ash, beech, sycamore, yew, bilberry and heather. There are therefore potentially very grave consequences for the ancient oaks at Brocton Coppice and for the internationally important Cannock Chase heathland. Phytophthora ramorum is a notifiable plant pathogen and the Environment & Countryside Unit * at Staffordshire County Council is liaising with DEFRA's Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate * regarding control and eradication measures.
The Council is not, at this point, closing the Chase to visitors, but is asking people to stay on footpaths and tracks and to keep dogs on leads in the woodland. If you visit this area please refrain, however tempting, from leaving footpaths. Apart from the risks to this special site, there is the chance of spreading the infection to gardens and other places visited. Among the many ornamental plants susceptible are rhododendron, magnolia, lilac and camellia.
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