I write to inform you that Sweet chestnut blight, which is caused by the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica, has been confirmed in East London and there will be a press notice about this.
It is not believed that this finding is linked to the previous outbreak in the South West. Action is being taken to identify and control the disease in line with our contingency plan and in compliance with our obligations under the UK’s Protected Zone status for this disease. We are working closely with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to carry out extensive surveillance of sweet chestnut trees in the area, working closely with local stakeholders. Further action will be taken on the basis of surveillance information and the best available scientific evidence.
I would appeal to you/your members to help us by inspecting your/their sweet chestnut trees frequently during the coming months, and to immediately report any suspicious symptoms to us using our Tree Alert tool. A symptoms factsheet and Pest Alert is available on our website to help you/your members to know what to look for when inspecting your trees. www.forestry.gov.uk/chestnutblight
Maintaining good biosecurity can be vital in reducing the spread of the disease so anyone visiting or working on woodland sites can play a role by includes cleaning clothes, footwear, tools and machinery before moving to other locations to avoid accidentally spreading the pest further afield.
Please also reassure family, neighbours, staff and visitors that the disease poses no risk to people, pets or livestock, and it does not affect horse chestnut (conker) trees (Aesculus hipppocastanum).
In 2013, the UK introduced special requirements that importers must notify the plant health services of pending imports of sweet chestnut plants before their arrival to enable inspection. The UK is also a Protected Zone for C. parasitica, meaning that movements of sweet chestnut plants into the UK must comply with additional requirements, and are accompanied by specific plant passports eligible for the zone and confirming that they are disease free.
If you have any queries please contact me.
Craig Harrison FICFor
Forestry Commission London Manager
Area 1C Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR