Natural England, in partnership with FERA (the Food and Environment Research Agency), have temporarily closed the open access land around Holwick Fell, including Holwick Scar, under emergency closure powers as a result of the presence of a damaging plant fungal infection.
Phytophthora austrocedrae (P. austrocedrae) is a damaging plant pathogen (a fungal infection) which has only recently been discovered in Great Britain (the current reported distribution of the infection is limited to Argentina, Chile and now the UK). Its presence has been confirmed in juniper bushes at the Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve (NNR) in the North Pennines.
The pathogen was detected in November 2011 as the cause of dieback in juniper bushes on heathland in the Moor House area of the Nature Reserve in Northern England. It is especially serious because juniper is quite rare in the UK and this site has the second largest population of the species in the UK.
A survey will be carried out of other areas where junipers are growing to establish whether the pathogen is present at other sites in the UK. The devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales have also been alerted so that they can consider carrying out similar surveys.
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