Our use of cookies We use necessary cookies to make our site work. Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, website analytics and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone. For more information on how these cookies work, please see our privacy policy.

To agree to our use of cookies, click the 'Accept' button.

Disease of Bilberry (Phytophthora)

Bilberry showing symptoms of Phytophthora

Phytophthora ramorum, a notifiable plant disease, has been found on Rhododendron to the north of the Cannock Chase Country Park.

It was originally suspected to be implicated in the dieback of bilberry. It has not been isolated in laboratory tests but we cannot discount it as a threat to bilberry, which has been infected by it on one site in north Staffordshire.

Confirmed Phytophthora infections are generally restricted to the northern part of the Country Park, in and around Brocton Coppice, with several areas recently becoming infected to the south, around the Katyn Memorial.

The threat to Cannock Chase

The Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is of international importance for its heathland plant communities.  Bilberry, cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) and their nationally rare hybrid (V. x intermedium) are characteristic components of those communities, and the condition of the heathland would suffer substantially if they were lost.

Heather (Calluna vulgaris), the other key heathland component, and sessile oak (Quercus petraea), the dominant species in Brocton Coppice, are both potential hosts of Phytophthora species. There is currently no evidence that they are infected, but if they were to succumb, the prospects for the Cannock Chase heathlands and ancient woodlands would be grim indeed.

Control Strategy

Wild animals, horses, dogs and their owners are all potential carriers of spores. 

For this reason we are asking visitors:

  • to keep to the main tracks
  • not to stray into the vegetation
  • to keep dogs on short leads at all times in the main affected areas

The map below shows the areas where these access restrictions apply.

The great majority of visitors are complying with these requests which are indicated on signs at the car parks, but a minority are not.

If the risk of the spread of spores cannot be controlled in this way we may have to request Natural England to impose more stringent access restrictions on the Country Park. In the meantime we will not give consent for any organised 'off-track' activities that would take people or their animals into potentially infected vegetation.

With thanks

We would like to thank all of the walkers, riders, mountain bikers, orienteers, bird watchers, dog owners and casual visitors who have heeded our requests to help control the disease.

Without your co-operation we would be forced to consider more stringent access controls. Let us hope that it does not come to that.


If you would like any more information please email us at: phytophthora@staffordshire.gov.uk

There are no results that match your search criteria

Latest environment news

Think Before You Park When Doing the School Run

Parents and carers are being encouraged to think before they park now that pupils have returned to the classroom.
14 September 2021

Partnership with county charity to benefit from recycled household goods set to continue

A partnership with a Staffordshire charity to donate recycled goods from the county council's household waste recycling centres is set to continue until 2023.
10 September 2021

County Council Shares its Movements Towards a Net Zero Future

Staffordshire County Council has reduced its carbon emissions by a quarter in the first year after declaring a climate change emergency.
02 September 2021

Cannock Chase conservation project ready to begin

Cattle to be used in a new conservation project have arrived on Cannock Chase.
27 August 2021

Visit the Staffordshire Newsroom

Contacting the chat service.

Please wait...
Chat with us
digital assistant
Enter your question below