Plant Biosecurity: Oak Processionary Moth Issue

In response to recent interceptions of Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) (Thaumetopoea processionea) on larger imported oak trees, new import and movement controls are being put in place to protect against the imminent danger of introducing this pest into the UK OPM Protected Zone.

The OPM Protected Zone consists of all areas of the UK outwith London and surrounding areas, where OPM is already established.

The new measures will be in effect in England from Tuesday 21 August 2018 and are being implemented by Defra through the Plant Health (England) Order, in consultation with the UK Plant Health Authorities. This reflects that fact that the majority of these trees are brought into the UK through English ports.

Similar requirements will be introduced later in the year by the rest of the UK Plant Health Authorities and you will be advised accordingly.

The new rules apply to imported oak trees (Quercus L) other than Q.suber, whose girth at 1.2m above the root collar is greater than 8cm. They set out very specific conditions, which if not met, will prohibit the movement of plants into – and movement within – the OPM Protected Zone. These trees are still subject to the existing statutory notification requirements. (Smaller oaks will also continue to be subject to the notification scheme and targeted inspections.)

These conditions are that the trees concerned:–

  • have been grown throughout their life in places of production in countries in which OPM is not known to occur
  • have been grown throughout their life in a protected zone which is recognised as such for OPM, or in an area free from OPM, established by the national plant protection organisation in accordance with ISPM No. 4
  • have been produced in nurseries which, along with their vicinity, have been found free from OPM on the basis of regular, official inspections carried out at appropriate times in the vegetation cycle and additionally as close as practically possible to their movement.
  • have been grown throughout their life in a site with complete physical protection against the introduction of OPM and have been inspected at appropriate times and found to be OPM free.

    OPM caterpillars cause significant damage to oak trees and can pose risks to human and animal health.

    Information has been included on the UK plant health portal. Your support in passing on these new requirements to others within and outwith your organisation would be most appreciated.

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