Government action confirmed to curb the threat of Oak Processionary Moth spread

Further to our blog from two weeks ago the government has published emergency importation measures to stem the flow of Oak Processionary Moth. This legislation comes into effect on the 21st August. Details as per link below.

Quercus (Oak) must be accompanied by an official statement that:

(a) they have been grown throughout their life in places of production in countries in which Oak Processionary Moth is not known to occur;

(b) they have been grown throughout their life in a protected zone which is recognised as a protected zone for Oak Processionary Moth or in an area free from Oak Processionary Moth, established by the national plant protection organisation in accordance with ISPM No. 4;

(c) they have been produced in nurseries which, along with their vicinity, have been found free from Oak Processionary Moth on the basis of official inspections carried out as close as practically possible to their movement and official surveys of the nurseries and their vicinity have been carried out at appropriate times since the beginning of the last complete cycle of vegetation to detect larvae and other symptoms of Oak Processionary Moth; or

(d) they have been grown throughout their life in a site with complete physical protection against the introduction of a Oak Processionary Moth and have been inspected at appropriate times and found to be free from Oak Processionary Moth.

As Oak Processionary Moth is so widespread in Holland, having been introduced there about 16 years ago, I cannot think of a single nursery that will be able to legitimately supply Oak into the UK.

The message to the Landscape Architect, Landscape Designer, Town Planner, Landscape Contractor or Private Individual is clear. Buy pest free home grown trees that have not been imported for a quick turnaround. Ask for an audit trail of your trees to make sure they comply with legislation.

The fact that we as a nation have got to this stage means that the lessons that should have been learned from the importation of Ash Die Back Disease have not been taken on board by industry specifiers or private buyers. Imported trees with Ash Die Back resulted in an Ash ban with no Fraxinus being planted for the past 6 years and counting. Hopefully this Government action on Quercus (Oak) is not too late.

The looming threat of Xylella fastidiosa is on the horizon, when are we all going to wake up to the fact that importing plant material is a dangerous activity? There are great examples, namely Australia, New Zealand and the USA where biosecurity is regarded as paramount and public awareness is backed up with fines and legislation to enforce. In our view this seems a sensible way to proceed.


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