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Isle of Man Phytophthora Outbreak

Large-scale clearance of affected trees, whilst retaining stored whole-tree material for the Government sawmill, but limiting the rapid spread of the pathogen and opening up areas for the restocking of Phytophthora resistant species.

Scope

KHL deployed a 440hp power-pack excavator mulcher and a 30-ton forestry excavator, equipped with a 22-inch capacity tree shear. Working in close partnership with IOM forestry staff, affected forest areas were quickly surveyed to establish whether tree crops were suitable for sawmills or had to be mulched to the ground for restocking.

Working extremely quickly, trees were either sheared whole and stacked in piles for further processing by forestry harvester or were mulched to the ground.

Challenges / Notes / Innovations

Steep and slippery ground conditions, high levels of surface rock, and extremely high levels of rainfall presented very challenging working conditions for the machines and operators. Further problems presented themselves when trying to move between sites, as many island roads are small single-track carriageways, with restricted headroom. This involved extensive planning with both IOM forestry staff and landowners, to track machines into worksites across the country, with much preparation of access routes.

Many sites, such as the extremely steep and famous Glens, had to be left to their fate, but all of the target sites were successfully cleared.

This project is an excellent example of how highly-skilled Government staff, who are dedicated and experienced, can work closely with machines and techniques that are new to the island, whilst maintaining project deadlines, strict environmental controls, and site safety at all times, despite the very real pressures of a rapidly-spreading pathogen and the demands of the island infrastructure that has to accommodate large numbers of visitors and tourists throughout the year.