From: MEDIA RELEASE GREEN MSPs 20 September 2012 GREENS UNCOVER SCALE OF DISEASE THREATENING FORESTRY ECONOMY Scottish Greens are warning more must be done to prevent the rampant spread of a devastating tree disease, which is putting the country's important forestry economy at risk. Dothistroma Needle Blight (DNB) kills off varieties of pine tree and is predicted to thrive due to warmer, wetter conditions caused by climate change. Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, has discovered trials of spraying chemicals from aircraft are planned for next year in a bid to find out how best to tackle the disease. Loss of forestry due to the condition is also reducing Scotland's ability to store harmful carbon emissions. In 2006 needle blight affected an estimated 132 hectares. Surveys have improved and the most recent figures suggest 11,500 hectares are now affected - an area the size of over 11,000 rugby pitches. North Highland, Moray and Aberdeenshire forest districts are worst affected. Ministers have confirmed to Ms Johnstone that needle blight is "already having an adverse economic impact" as it has reduced timber values. Alison said: "The Scottish forestry sector supports over 13,000 jobs and is worth almost half a billion pounds to the economy, so the threat posed by needle blight must be taken seriously. Woodlands are an important part of our natural and cultural heritage, and are vital public spaces that promote wellbeing and exercise. "I welcome the assurance that annual surveys are to be carried out to gain a better understanding of the disease's spread. I also welcome the proposed further work on its links with the climate. This issue shows why tackling climate change is an economic priority." (Ends) Answers to Alison's questions are here: Jason Rose Head of Media The Green MSPs – Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnstone MG05 The Scottish Parliament Holyrood Edinburgh EH99 1SP 0131 348 6360 07500 792995 @greenmsps _______________________________________________ SGP News mailing list. See for information and list options. List owned and maintained by the Scottish Green Party. Queries and problems: list-unsubscribe: _______________________________________________