Cardiff City Council has been forced to cut down and burn ornamental trees in Cefn Onn Park in Lisvane because of an incurable fungus.
The council says swift action is needed to stop the disease spreading from rhododendron trees to other species. Volunteers from local environmental groups like Cardiff Rivers Group, Green Days and Keep Wales Tidy have been helping out on the site.
Alec Stewart, one of the council’s community rangers, says: “without volunteers we’d never be able to keep on top of the work, and to be honest, it’s difficult to keep on top of the work as it is.”
The fungus, Phytophthora ramorum, normally affects non-native plants and trees and is spreading across the country. Last year large areas of larch trees at Cwmcarn Forest near Newport had to be cut out due to the disease.
The council says the impact on local wildlife is limited and that they hope that they can save some of the trees for the public to enjoy. But it is unlikely they will be able to re-plant the same species again, and will have to look for new varieties to replace them.
The fungus can only be contained and not eradicated completely. The council says that members of the public can help by staying on footpaths and keeping dogs on leads. Fungal spores can be easily transmitted by dogs to private gardens, where it can take hold and spread.
Dave King, a volunteer with Cardiff Rivers Group, says: “if we as the community want to keep these spaces and enjoy them, we need to step up and actually help do something about maintaining them.”