Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) outbreaks in the UK pose a serious threat to our oak trees. Boningale are ceasing importation of oak trees effective immediately, and will only be sourcing UK oak stock.
OPM is already established in greater London and some surrounding areas. Defra have noted that the UK Plant Health Service are taking steps to eradicate recent findings of OPM in Hampshire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire. These steps may include surveillance, tracing and destruction of the caterpillars and infested trees.
OPM feeds heavily on oak leaves and weakens the tree, leaving it very vulnerable to other pests, diseases and stresses. It is also harmful to humans and animals, and anyone finding the pest should inform the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
Boningale has been working hard with other nurseries, trade bodies and DEFRA to set up industry-wide plant health protocols to help prevent the damage caused by imported pathogens. It has made full use of the Plant Health self-assessment which is currently available online, and it is hoped that the Plant Heath Assurance Scheme will be launched this year which will audit nurseries importing plants. It also already has a Plant Health Management System to ensure it honours their biosecurity responsibilities, both on our nursery site and beyond.
Although DEFRA has previously been confident that the Dutch Inspection Authority NakT was carrying out inspections to the required standard, these outbreaks highlight the need for further vigilance. Over the past week, it has made strides to further tighten its regulations regarding its trading of oak trees, in light of this Boningale will:
- Immediately halt the import of all oak species from Europe
- Only source UK oak stock that has been inspected by UK inspectors during the last growing season
- Work closely with any customers who have recently purchased oak from us to answer any questions or concerns they might have.
It is still important that landscape professionals across the industry remain vigilant and carry out inspections on site. At the moment anyone purchasing oak trees can plan for extra delivery time to allow nurseries to source responsibly, check if their oaks are UK sourced, check their supplier’s Plant Health Management Policy, and ask if their nursery has done the Plant Health self-assessment.
The Directors of Boningale Ltd are working closely with Defra and Government Offices to provide and share knowledge so as to keep our clients protected and informed.