Extracts from our new book War & Peat

For extracts – two chapters from our new book War & Peat – based on last year’s conference, see the attached link.

War & Peat conference book 2014 extracts

For more details of the book please see either Amazon.co.uk


Or Wildtrack Publishing.




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One Response to Extracts from our new book War & Peat

  1. Technotronic says:


    This year, my family noted that there have been noticing a significant scarcity of bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) about. They tell me that usual sites have some plants in flower, some with bilberries and some with neither. They say this has been the case for months and that the berries that are about are much smaller than usual.

    Until a couple of weeks ago, when I set out on a walk from Bolsterstone, I thought that perhaps the bilberry crop was just a little late and everyone was over exaggerating the problem. That was until I walked along Wind Hill Knoll (grid ref: SK 244 978), after exiting Millstones Wood & crossing the Western end of Long Lane. What I found was shocking to me – symptoms of Phytophthora infection on every bilberry plant in sight! Perhaps the birds hadn’t been particularly greedy this year!

    Phytophthora sp. are fungus-like organisms – Heterokonts (AKA Stramenopiles). They are microscopic organisms that are most closely related to algae. One particular species caused the Irish potato famine that killed thousands of Irish and forced many to leave their country to live elsewhere.

    Previously, back in about 2009, I read research papers predicting how Phytophthora sp. could, in theory, devastate miles of bilberry-covered land, potentially change the face of our countryside and restrict the plant species we can grow commercially.

    Today, while out walking from the A635 (grid ref: SE 054 062) to Soldier’s Lump, on Black Hill, all about the hill, ALL bilberry plants have symptoms of Phytophthora infection. The blotched leaves are a total give away. However, what confirmed my suspected diagnosis were Rhododendron bushes near the road displaying the same foliar symptoms. BTW, While out at Longshaw, about a year ago, I saw Rhododendrons there with symptoms of Phytophthora infection – on the bushes beside the path that runs down from the café to the pond.

    It would be interesting to have a confirmed diagnosis of exactly which species of Phytophthora are causing the damage to our bilberries and to know whether or not anyone else has noticed. I guess we can all kiss goodbye to the kind of bilberry harvest that our families have enjoyed for generations, for the reasonably foreseeable future, at any rate. 

    Extracts from:
    Review of Joint Inter-Departmental Emergency Programme to Contain and Eradicate Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora kernoviae in Great Britain.


    By Isobel Tomlinson, Tom Harwood, Clive Potter, Jon Knight.
    Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, South Kensington
    Corresponding author: Email i.tomlinson@imperial.ac.uk
    October 2009

    “3.35 Failure to engage with conservation organisations
    The habitats where Pr /Pk has been found in the UK have evolved and increased over time from initially nurseries, to woodland and then to heathland, partly due to a broadening of surveying. Early research indicated that Vaccinium myrtillus was susceptible (see Jones and Sansford [2001a] and Jones, Sansford and Brasier 2003 for concern with Vaccinium spp.) and this generated concern amongst some on the Board because heathland in the UK is a key habitat, and the UK has a large proportion of the world‟s lowland and upland heathland. The potential for Pr/Pk to cause a major conservation issue for the UK was recognised. However, it is acknowledged that “we struggled to get the conservation organisations, both the governmental and non-governmental ones, really engaged” (interviewee D, policy maker). Once, Pk had been found on Vaccinium in heathland, Natural England were engaged very quickly, but it is wished that they had been engaged earlier:

    “The other weakness was that the Programme Board was not able to get real engagement with the conservation interests during the early years as the problem was seen as a nursery/invasive Rhododendron issue. This only changed (and then very rapidly) once we found infection in Vaccinium in heathland and the potentially severe damaging nature of it became apparent” [survey respondent]

    It is understood that before Pk had been found on Vaccinnium, the theoretical risk identified through scientific research was not given priority over more pressing, current issues. This raises issues for the communication of risk and broader risk management issues. Action is required in response to potential threats (as in the initial surveys) rather than realised threats in order to avoid reactive rather than proactive policy.

    It is understood that the finding of Pk on heathland contributed to the decision to fund the new programme. The Board composition needs to reflect this, and it has been stated that the new Board will deal with this by including, for example, Natural England and the Countryside Council for Wales. However, the lack of engagement with other non-governmental conservation, environmental and rural interest organisations is of concern and it is recommended that more work is done to involve them with Pr/Pk (and plant biosecurity issues more broadly).

    The success or otherwise of the management board has been down to some extent by the individuals involved and the level of commitment and ability to work together they have demonstrated. This is something that should be kept in mind for the future.”

    The Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) Advice, 2012:

    Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora kernoviae are quarantine diseases and Defra needs to be notified of any findings so action can be taken against them.

    If you suspect that such a pest or disease is present, you should report it immediately to your local Plant Health and Seeds Inspector (contact details below).

    If you discover any plants showing the symptoms illustrated in this leaflet:
    _ Make a note of the location
    _ Take a photograph if possible
    _ Don’t touch the plant or take a cutting
    _ Use the contact information below

    Telephone: 01904 465625
    Email: planthealth.info@fera.gsi.gov.uk




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