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Castlewellan MTB Trails remain open despite Larch disease


Larch disease has been found in Castlewellan Forest Park, however the newly opened Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trails will remain open for business. 

Down District Council Chairman, Councillor Maria McCarthy stated, “Down District Council and Forest Service are working closely to minimise the impact on the mountain bike trails by scheduling and sequencing necessary felling operations to cause least disruption.

Over the coming weeks users of the trails will be required to use a number of diversions and alternative routes to ensure their safety and to minimise the potential for spread of the disease. I would ask that everyone respects all signage which is displayed on the site.

The lay-out of the trail network has been designed in such a way as to allow sections to be omitted with the minimum of impact.”

MountainBikeNI.com will have regular updates on diversions which will begin from Tue 18th June.

The Forest Service said the area of trees affected is approximately 100 hectares. The disease was identified when many trees that were apparently healthy last autumn showed symptoms during the spring. Many trees have already died. Action to fell the trees is underway because this is the most effective way of preventing further spread.

Confirming the new outbreak at Castlewellan Forest Park, Forest Service Chief Executive Malcolm Beatty, said: “We are very disappointed about this outbreak in Castlewellan as it is further evidence that the disease is continuing to spread. We will clear over 100 hectares of forest to reduce the risk of the disease spreading to other forest species, and to recover as much of the timber as is possible."

The Forest Service chief also appealed to the public to help in the control of the disease saying: "Castlewellan Forest Park remains open to visitors. However, visitors to the forest should follow the guidance detailed on signs at the affected sites. It is especially important to avoid any action which could result in the movement of infected soil or plant parts to uninfected areas. Visitors are also urged to ensure their bicycles and footwear are free of any soil before visiting other areas. The disease presents no risk to humans or animals, although the temporary loss of habitat for wild animals is inevitable.”

See MountainBikeNI.com's latest blog 'Help reduce the spread of tree disease'


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