THOUSANDS of woodland trees are to be felled because of disease.
The Forestry Commission will start the action on 3,500 trees, covering six hectares, in Cromford Moors near Matlock this summer because many have the red band needle blight disease. Corsican pines have stunted growth and sometimes die because of the fungus.
Most of the woodland contains other trees including larch, fir and oak, which are unaffected. But forest chiefs say they want to tackle the disease now to let the beauty spot continue to thrive.
“There is no risk to the wood’s future or wildlife”, said forester Albin Smith.
“Actually Mother Nature will benefit as many animals do well in clear-felled areas, including the nocturnal nightjar, which nests in Cromford Moors and just one other location in Derbyshire.
“Mixing up the age structure of trees also benefits plants and animals.”
Most trees at Cromford Moor were planted after the Second World War to replenish the nation’s depleted timber reserves. Another six hectares of woodland may also be felled, with Norway spruce and fir to be replanted.
Mr Smith added: “The main impact of the disease is on timber production as Corsican pine is our main commercial crop. By acting early we will maintain a good supply of wood, an important renewable resource, in the long term.”