Outbreak of parasitic fungi hits Wigan park

An outbreak of parasitic fungi is behind a decision to fell a number of trees in Haigh Woodland Park.
Chopped-down trees in Haigh Woodland ParkChopped-down trees in Haigh Woodland Park
Chopped-down trees in Haigh Woodland Park

Walkers have expressed concerns after dozens of specimens across the Higher Plantations were axed.

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And trees, in the same area, have also been marked for removal after discussions with the Forestry Commission.

Six years ago Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust began a comprehensive programme to remove tangled rhododendron formations at Haigh.

This came after a fungal disease called phytophthora ramorum, also known as Sudden Oak Death, was identified in such bushes on the 100-acre site.

With the removal of the rhododendrons, aboriculturalists have inspected the remaining trees and identified any hazardous ones.

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Earlier this month an ancient large oak toppled over in the park.

Debbie Miles said on Facebook: "What is happening in The Plantations? It’s not a pleasure to walk there anymore.

"They are cutting trees down but not removing them. A few are great for wildlife, I know, but there’s so many it looks like there’s been a hurricane."

Park users have been told trees which are located away from the main paths, and would not endanger routes through the woodland, have been left alone.

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And the Forestry Commission has advised that the timber left behind should be left in situ, to contain the spread of any potential diseases.

Some of the wood could then be either burned on the site or taken away for environmentally-friendly disposal.

Penny McGinty, the council’s assistant contracts director, said: "The trees which have been felled at Haigh are part of planned works. They have been identified to have a parasitic fungi, which cause trees to fracture or fail and leads to imminent danger.

"We will continue to conduct further risk surveys until all immediate priority trees have been dealt and then we will continue to monitor the woodland."