by Matt Letch
September 20, 2010
Mountain bikers urged to help beat deadly tree disease
at Bwlch Nant yr Arian
Mountain bikers are being asked to do their bit to minimise the impact of a fatal tree disease that has now been discovered in mid Wales.
An outbreak of Phytophthora ramorum has been found in a small number of Japanese larch trees at the Bwlch Nant yr Arian visitor centre, near Aberystwyth, which is home to three single track mountain bike routes.
P. ramorum is a fungus-like pathogen that kills many of the trees that it infects. Infected Japanese larch trees produce high numbers of the spores that spread the disease with the result that a lot of these trees can become infected very quickly.
In an attempt to minimise the impact of the outbreak at Bwlch Nant yr Arian, Forestry Commission Wales will fell up to 60 trees that are currently infected. This work will take a couple of weeks to complete and will be carried out with as little disruption as possible to visitors.
P. ramorum is not harmful to humans or animals and all walking and mountain bike trails, plus the visitor centre, remain open to the public.
While the felling of infected trees takes place, the last section of the three mountain bike trails will be closed for a short period of time and a diversion put in place.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian is managed by Forestry Commission Wales on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government.
Mountain Bike Ranger, Andy Braund, is appealing to mountain bikers to help keep the routes at Bwlch Nant yr Arian open by following some simple biosecurity measures.
Andy said, “We are working hard to minimise the impact of this serious disease on our woodlands and the support of the mountain bike community is vital.
“Everyone who works in or visits the affected woodlands is being asked to observe some simple biosecurity measures so that they don’t inadvertently spread this pathogen.
“For mountain bikers, this means keeping to the trails and washing their bikes and kit thoroughly to remove all dirt and plant material before they leave the forest – a bike wash is available at the visitor centre. They should also wash their clothing between visits to forests.”
Forestry Commission Wales staff will continue to monitor trees at Bwlch Nant yr Arian for signs of infection but, in many cases, symptoms may not become evident until next spring when larch trees –which are deciduous conifers – renew their needles.
Andy added, “Phytophthora ramorum is a serious disease and, by felling infected trees, we hope to limit the production of the spores that spread the infection.
“As Bwlch Nant yr Arian is a popular site, it is also important that we fell infected trees before they die and become unstable, thus presenting a potential risk to visitors.”
P. ramorum was first discovered on Japanese larch trees in Great Britain in 2009 in South West England. It was then found on larch in public woodlands in South Wales in June 2010.
Further information about P. ramorum can be found on the Forestry Commission’s website at www.forestry.gov.uk/pramorum
Mountain bike trails at Bwlch Nant yr Arian
The Summit trail offers awesome riding on flowing twisty single track, taking in superb views.
The Syfydrin Trail is an epic ride in epic countryside, taking in the entire Summit trail.
The Pendam Trail is the shortest route at Nant yr Arian and combines sections of the ‘Summit’ and ‘Syfydrin’ trails to give a taste of the fantastic riding and scenery.