The National Trust has been doing a lot of felling on their Tarn Hows property opening up new vistas but this is a small consolation for the change in the character of the tarn and woods from an iconic Lakeland wooded tarn to an area resembling the aftermath of a Tunguska event. The felling is the response to an outbreak of the disease Phytophthora ramorum and trees need to be felled quickly to prevent further spread, preferably before the Spring. In this country, larch trees are particularly susceptible but beech, horse and sweet chestnut, Sitka spruce, Douglas and other fir trees have been infected. It has also been found that infected Rhododendrons especially produce large amounts of the spores which can then spread over long distances by wind and along watercourses. The virus has been found nationwide but seems to prefer the wetter, western regions of the country. However, there has been a case in the Howardian Hills.
At first, I thought the lopped stumps on the left had been snapped in one of our recent gales but on closer inspection, it appears that the cut has been deliberately left jagged, probably to quicken decay and provide a wildlife habitat. I assume the lower trunk of the tree shows none of the characteristic signs of a ramorum attack, typically bark bleeding and foliage dieback.
Back home I followed the bio-security advice and washed my footwear to prevent the spread, a reminder of the foot-and-mouth epidemic of 2001.