Tree disease is spreading

Scottish Greens are warning more must be done to prevent the spread of a devastating tree disease, which is affecting Aberdeenshire forests.

Dothistroma Needle Blight (DNB) kills off varieties of pine tree and is predicted to thrive due to warmer, wetter conditions caused by climate change.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, has discovered trials of spraying chemicals from aircraft are planned for next year in a bid to find out how best to tackle the disease. Loss of forestry due to the condition is also reducing Scotland’s ability to store harmful carbon emissions.

In 2006 needle blight affected an estimated 132 hectares. Surveys have improved and the most recent figures suggest 11,500 hectares are now affected - an area the size of over 11,000 rugby pitches. North Highland, Moray and Aberdeenshire forest districts are worst affected.

She said:“I welcome the assurance that annual surveys are to be carried out to gain a better understanding of the disease’s spread. I also welcome the proposed further work on its links with the climate. This issue shows why tackling climate change is an economic priority.”