A LEADING figure to help safeguard the Lake District for generations to come has said a killer tree disease is 'certain' to spread across the county.

Harvey Wilkinson, Lake District curator from the National Trust, has spoken out about cases of P Ramorum, a disease which is found on shrubs and trees.

The condition mainly affects larch trees in the south of the county, however, concerns have been raised over the future of trees in north Cumbria.

Mr Wilkinson told The Cumberland News: “In terms of spread it will almost certainly move to the north lakes.

“Of course we also have ash die back that is another growing threat to our more native trees in the Lakes.”

According to a report published by the Forestry Commission last year, Cumbria saw a total of 29 new cases reported between 2018/19.

The disease has been known to most affect trees in the southern half of the county.

However, several cases have been reported as north as Keswick, with fears expressed that the disease will affect scores of trees across north Cumbria and the Eden Valley.

It is a significant rise after about six reports were made between 2017/18.

Forestry Research has advised on what signs to look out for. A spokesman said: “Symptoms on the bark include lesions – sometimes known as bleeding cankers – which exude, or ooze, dark fluid from infected bark, as seen on the Western hemlock branch pictured above.

“This exudate can dry to a crust on the bark.

“The inner bark under this bleeding area is usually discoloured and dying.

“Trees with branch dieback can also have numerous resinous cankers on the branches and upper trunk.

“Trees die when the lesions become extensive on the main trunk.

“Shoots and foliage can also be affected, visible as wilted, withered shoot tips with blackened needles. The infected shoots shed their needles prematurely.”

To report a case, call the Forestry Commission on 0300 067 4321.

Alternatively, those who spot anything while out and about in the county should email tree_health_england@forestrycommission.gov.uk, and attach at least one clear, well-lit photograph of the symptoms.