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Scottish Forestry Implements Measures to Safeguard Irish Forests

Scottish Forestry Takes Action to Safeguard Irish Forests Amidst Bark Beetle Threat
Scottish Forestry Takes Action to Safeguard Irish Forests Amidst Bark Beetle Threat

Scottish Forestry Takes Action to Safeguard Irish Forests Amidst Bark Beetle Threat


In Brief:

  • Scottish Forestry has imposed new restrictions on spruce timber exports to Ireland to address the threat of the great spruce bark beetle, aiming to safeguard Irish forests.
  • A 35-kilometer buffer zone has been established around locations where the beetle has been found. Spruce timber with bark can only be moved under a phytosanitary certificate between October 1 and March 31, with strict guidelines on storage and loading.
  • The measures have been praised by Ireland’s Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine. The collaborative effort between Scottish and Irish authorities emphasizes the commitment to maintaining a pest-free area and protecting forests from potential infestations.

In a move to address concerns over the great spruce bark beetle, Scottish Forestry has introduced new measures restricting the export of spruce timber to Ireland. The decision, announced on Wednesday, February 7, is a collaborative effort between Scottish Forestry and government departments in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Scottish Forestry, the government agency overseeing forestry matters in Scotland, has identified the great spruce bark beetle, scientifically known as Dendroctonus micans (D. micans), as a potential threat to Irish forests. The beetle poses risks to coniferous trees and, if left unchecked, could have detrimental effects on forest health.

To mitigate the risks associated with the spread of the D. micans bark beetle, Scottish Forestry has implemented a set of key measures. A 35-kilometer buffer zone will be established around locations where the beetle has been found in Scottish forests.

  1. Timber Movement: Spruce timber with bark, accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate, will only be allowed to travel through the 35 km buffer zone between October 1 and March 31. This aligns with the flying season of the D. micans bark beetle, reducing the likelihood of its spread.
  2. Storage and Loading: During the specified period, timber should not be stored in the buffer zone. However, loading at ports is permitted. Shipments originating from the buffer zone must arrive in Ireland and clear the port or pier before April 1, 2024.
  3. Phytosanitary Certificates: Certificates confirming that conifer timber is free from D. micans will not be issued within 35 km of a beetle finding.

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM), Pippa Hackett, has expressed approval of these measures. Minister Hackett stated that her department has engaged in detailed discussions with Scottish counterparts to ensure the integrity of the pest-free area is maintained, safeguarding Irish forests.

Ireland holds a Protected Zone status that includes six bark beetle species, with D. micans being one of them. This status emphasizes the commitment to preserving the health of Irish forests and preventing the introduction of harmful pests.

Northern Ireland also shares this protected zone status with Ireland for the same six bark beetle species. Minister Hackett emphasized the necessity of ensuring pest-free imports, stating that now is the right time to take additional steps to reduce the area within the Scottish Pest-Free Area from which logs can be exported to Ireland.

According to Minister Hackett, there is a plan to presume expanding the buffer by an additional 10 km after 12 months. However, the final decision on this expansion will require agreement between Scottish Forestry and the relevant authorities in Ireland.

James Nott, the head of tree health at Scottish Forestry, highlighted the importance of maintaining pest-free status for D. micans in both the west of Scotland and the island of Ireland. This status has been in place for many years, enabling trade to continue between the regions.

Minister Hackett emphasized the importance of vigilance among all forest stakeholders. She announced the upcoming establishment of a Forest Health stakeholder grouping to facilitate regular exchanges on this issue. Collaboration between DAFM and counterparts in Great Britain and Northern Ireland will remain crucial to addressing potential risks to forest health.

Scottish Forestry’s proactive measures underscore its commitment to forest health and sustainable trade practices. By addressing the potential threat of the great spruce bark beetle, both Scotland and Ireland aim to protect their forests and maintain a longstanding tradition of collaboration and trade.

 


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