Page last updated at 10:39 GMT, Friday, 9 January 2009

Plant disease affects beauty spot

Cannock Chase - generic image
The council wants dog owners to keep their pets leashed

A Staffordshire beauty spot has come under attack from a highly-virulent plant disease.

An outbreak of Phytophthora ramorum, also known as sudden oak death, has been identified in the Brocton Coppice area of Cannock Chase.

Part of the area has been closed to the public to contain the disease, which can be spread on footwear and by dogs.

Staffordshire County Council has asked for dogs to be kept on leads until all the "infected material" is destroyed.

'Fungus-like organism'

Walkers have also been asked to stay on footpaths.

Steve Potter, from the council, said: "The way the disease seems to progress is that the spores of this fungus-like organism enter into the bark and you get these dark patches which are the first sign of infection.

"That then spreads through the shoots and eventually, if it's unchecked, the whole of the bush will actually die back."

Diseased shrubs will be cut down and burnt.

Experts have been monitoring the disease in case further action needs to be taken.

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