The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has sent letters to more than 70 New Forest garden centres, growers and landowners, warning of the “significant risk” posed by Phytophthora ramorum to the area.
The letter reports 13 findings on nursery stock and three findings on established plants in Hampshire. It adds: “The similarity of climate and vegetation between the New Forest and the areas in Cornwall and Sussex where infected trees have been found suggests that there may be a significant risk.”
The assistant manager at Christchurch-based MacPenny’s Nurseries, Simon Lowndes, said: “Our local DEFRA inspector has been visiting us periodically to check things over and advise on what to be looking for.”
The letter says disease-management zones may be set up if the disease becomes persistent.
DEFRA will hold a meeting at 2pm on 26 April at Lyndhurst Community Centre to provide further information on the disease and options for controlling it.
For lists of known and suspected host plants, visit www.defra. gov.uk/planth/what.htm.
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