A highly destructive tree disease which has been creating significant damage across the UK in recent years has now been identified at Wyming Brook nature reserve.
Update 29/11/22: This article has been updated to reflect that works may now be split between this winter and next autumn/winter to accommodate complex logistics whilst ensuring minimised disruption to the bird nesting season, and allowing access during the popular spring/summer months. For more information, please see the Major tree work at Wyming Brook section below.
About phytophthora ramorum disease
Phytophthora ramorum is a microscopic fungal-like organism which causes extensive damage and death to various species. Phytophthora translates to ‘plant destroyer’, and the genus has been responsible for some of the worst plant epidemics in history — including being the primary source of the infamous Irish potato famine in the 19th century.
Sadly, the disease has been confirmed across several sites in Sheffield, including at Wyming Brook nature reserve and some surrounding areas.
Tree disease in Wyming Brook nature reserve
Particularly affected by phytophthora ramorum are larch and sweet chestnut trees, a number of which are present in Wyming Brook.
Unfortunately, as there is no cure and the disease can rapidly spread, the scientific advice is to fell those species of trees in an infected area. To this end, we expect to receive a Statutory Plant Health Notice requiring removal work to begin.
Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust always take the consideration of felling trees exceptionally seriously. Trees are vital for wildlife and to help with the climate and nature emergencies the world currently faces.
However, where such a severe incurable disease is present, we agree the best course of action is to remove the susceptible trees in the infected areas and minimise any further spread.
Future opportunities for nature
The Trust has identified several opportunities that will present themselves following any necessary tree removal.
We will work to create a more resilient woodland for the future. Gaps in the canopy will allow native broadleaf trees and shrubs such as oak, birch, rowan and holly to regenerate naturally, as well as the chance for ground flora to develop where light reaches the forest floor. In time this will provide excellent wildlife habitat.
In some situations we may be able to ‘ring-bark’ certain trees, creating a valuable standing deadwood resource.
Additionally, as part of the site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), removing the larch should help to elevate this area to ‘recovering’ status.
Major tree work at Wyming Brook
A significant operation will take place starting this winter to remove the specific trees in the affected areas. Unfortunately, this will have an unavoidable drastic effect on the landscape in the short-to-medium term.
Two periods of works are currently proposed. Neighbouring landowner Yorkshire Water will initially be removing affected trees from around the Rivelin Dams area. Whilst this phase doesn’t involve trees in Wyming Brook nature reserve directly, it will be necessary for Yorkshire Water to utilise Wyming Brook Drive and the car park off Redmires Road for the duration of their works. Dates are yet to be confirmed, but we expect this to happen during this coming winter period, subject to various logistics and notices.
There will then be a break to ensure minimal disruption during the bird nesting season and the popular spring/summer months for visitors. The Trust then aim to start work on affected trees in Wyming Brook nature reserve itself around September 2023.
We envisage there will be considerable disruption to visitors at Wyming Brook nature reserve. Large forestry machines will be required to fell and extract the timber.
For safety reasons the car park and main Wyming Brook Drive/path will need to be temporarily closed to allow foresters and hauliers to operate. Other footpaths on the site may also need to be temporarily closed at various times.
The Trust recognises the nature reserve is extremely popular with visitors. We will endeavour to keep disruption at a minimum and to provide advance notice of works and closures where possible. Information on alternative recreation routes will be provided.
Further planning and updates
Planning for the works is still at an early stage. Therefore this broad information is intended to give as much advance notice of the issue and proposed works as possible. Please bookmark this page and keep referring back for any updates as and when they become available.
For any further immediate questions regarding this operation, please email email@example.com or call 0114 263 4335.
For any information regarding the initial phase of works around Rivelin Dams please call Yorkshire Water on 0345 124 2424.
News relating to the operations around Wyming Brook:
David Bocking’s ‘It’s looking a bit black over Bill’s mother’s’ Blog, 29 November 2022:
“Return of the Natives” (David Bocking)