Hazzard welcomes Minister O’Neill to Moneyscalp Wood
South Down Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard was delighted to welcome the Agriculture & Rural Development Minister, Michelle O’Neill to Moneyscalp Wood on Monday to meet with Forestry officials concerning continued efforts to tackle the spread of the woodland disease Phytophtora ramorum.
In recent months the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), have removed 4600 tonnes of diseased trees from the Moneyscalp Wood and have carried out an aerial survey in attempts to spot the early signs of the disease.
Speaking to Newry Times, Hazzard explained, “Symptoms of the deadly disease were first spotted at Moneyscalp nine months ago and as a result fourteen hectares of larch trees were felled in an effort to contain the spread. The Forestry Commission will now carry out a further aerial survey in the weeks ahead in order to monitor the situation and will continue to work in partnership with forestry officials in the South in an effort to manage the disease in larch across the island.”
The local Assemblyman described on-going efforts to contain the disease as “crucial to our living environment” and is calling on users of the woodland to “follow the various instructions shown on signs and notices when displayed to clean their feet and equipment of any soil before entering or leaving a forest.”
“As a member of the DARD committee at Stormont I am acutely aware of the serious threat that this disease poses to our forests in and around the Mournes and Tollymore area of County Down.
He added, “Our woodland is spectacularly beautiful in this part of Ireland and I welcome the Minister’s commitment today to ensure that the Department will continue to do everything in their power to contain the disease and restore our forests.”
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