Forest owners on alert for Sitka spruce disease
Forestry owners have been put on high alert after the world's first case of Sudden Oak Death in Sitka spruce was confirmed in Ireland by the Department of Agriculture on Friday.
Sitka spruce accounts for 52pc of the standing forest in Ireland and up to 90pc of the saw mill intake in this country.
The infected young tree was approximately two metres in height and was growing in close proximity and underneath the canopy of a large infected rhododendron bush.
Officials have not disclosed the location of the infected Sitka spruce.
This is the first field record worldwide of the fungus-like organism Phytophtera ramorum infection in Sitka spruce, although the species had been found to be susceptible in international laboratory trials.
The area around the infected Sitka spruce has been effectively quarantined and monitoring will continue, officials confirmed.
The discovery of the disease in Sitka spruce shows a major development in the evolution of the disease, which until last year was only found in wild invasive rhododendron shrubs.
However in July 2010, Forest Service officials found the disease in 11 forests in counties Tipperary, Cork, Kilkenny, Waterford and Wicklow.