Confirmed cases of Dutch Elm Disease (DED) have been found this summer within and adjacent to Inverness and on the Black Isle.
In order to establish the true extent of the present outbreak members of the public are being asked to notify the Council of any suspected cases of the disease. In order to assist with identification, guidance notes and a Report Form can be downloaded from this page.
1.0 HISTORY OF DUTCH ELM DISEASE
1.1 The current epidemic commenced in the UK around 1968 following the importation of affected elm logs from North America. During the 1970s the disease spread throughout England and the first outbreak was identified in Scotland in 1976.
1.2 The disease is caused by a fungus (Ophiostoma nova ulmi) which is spread by bark beetles. The disease is specific to elms. The first symptoms of the disease, which appear from June/July onwards, include localised wilting of shoots and subsequent yellowing/browning of leaves within the upper canopy. The partial or complete death of trees may occur within that growing season.
2.0 CASES OF DUTCH ELM DISEASE WITHIN HIGHLAND
2.1 There have been localised cases of the disease within the Kingussie, Newtonmore and Laggan areas since the 1980s. There have also been isolated cases at Dochfour, Invergordon and Ullapool. It is considered that these outbreaks were as a result of affected material (probably firewood) being brought into these locations.
2.2 In 1997 a confirmed case of the disease was found in Auldearn. Survey work identified a greater area of newly affected elms within Moray which had spread westwards into Highland. Advice sought from Forestry Commission Research Branch recommended that a control strategy within a rural area was not a realistic option and to concentrate control measures on specified localities with easily defined populations of high value elms. Inverness was considered as fitting into this category.
Inverness is also seen as a “crossroads” in relation to elm populations to the north and west.
2.3 Regular monitoring has been undertaken and has shown little progress of the disease from the core activity area which extends from Auldearn to the west of Galcantray.
2.4 This summer cases of the disease have been confirmed in Culloden, Caulfield, Milburn, Kirkhill and Avoch. Last year’s hot summer will have aided the vector ability of the beetle. The movement of affected material is also a consideration.
3.0 CONTROL MEASURES
3.1 Under the Dutch Elm Disease (Local Authorities) Order 1984, the Council has powers of inspection, notification to fell affected trees and sanitation felling to prevent the spread of the disease.
3.2 An amendment (1988) to the Order saw the control area being restricted to Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey and those parts of Inverness and Lochaber lying to the southeast of the Great Glen.
4.0 ACTIONS UNDERTAKEN AND PROPOSED
4.1 The most urgent priority is to establish the true extent of the disease not only within the above noted locations, but also the wider area around Inverness and on the Black Isle given the potential for the beetle to have crossed the Moray Firth.
4.2 To aid the above work, contact is to be made with landowners, forestry agents and contractors, seeking their assistance in identifying suspected cases of the disease.
4.3 An early meeting with Forestry Commission and Scottish Natural Heritage is being arranged to discuss the wider implications for Highland’s elm population.
4.4 Firewood and timber merchants will be notified of the present outbreak of the disease and of the need to be vigilant when transporting elm timber.