Environmental company Natural Ecology Mitigation is working on the solution with the Forestry Commission’s Forest Research unit, the International Pesticide Application Research Consortium (IPARC) and Imperial researchers in the Department of Life Sciences. The consortium is now awaiting the green light from Government and investors to carry out further tests of the product and its mode of use, which would then allow this solution to be rolled out to the nation’s woodlands.

The product is called CuPC33 — a solution of copper sulphate and other minerals. Copper has long been used to treat fungal diseases in homes and gardens and a number of copper-based products are safety approved for use by health authorities in the UK. Laboratory trials show that the product is highly effective at controlling fungi that cause tree diseases, and greenhouse trials carried out at the Silwood Park Campus show the product does not harm the trees, either when injected or sprayed onto them.

The scientists say that CuPC33 could be dispersed through infected woodlands by spraying or as a dense medicated mist that lands on leaves and branches. Using technology that atomizes the liquid into very tiny droplets, they anticipate ten litres of diluted CuPC33 is sufficient to treat one hectare of forest at a material cost of less than 60p per litre. The cost of manpower and machines would represent the bulk of the total cost of treatment.

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