The Forestry Commission is urging importers who use wood packaging in shipments to comply with regulations to protect Britain’s trees and plants from invasive pests such as the Asian Longhorn Beetle – an increasing risk as summer approaches.
Wood packaging and dunnage (loose wood to support cargo) arriving at ports of entry in Britain is being destroyed if it poses a risk of carrying invasive insect pests – which are a threat to British plant and tree health.
There are strict international regulations for the standard of wood packaging material and dunnage which is used to ship goods and materials. It must be treated and marked according to the International Plant Protection Convention standard (ISPM 15 ) as a precaution against the movement of live pests or pathogens that may be present in the wood before it is exported.
As the weather warms up, the risk that insect pests such as Asian Longhorn Beetle can become established increases. Larval life stages develop more quickly in warm weather and the resulting adults can then take flight and establish in Britain.
Asian longhorn beetle (ALB), Anoplophora glabripennis, is a native of China and the Korean peninsula, and poses a serious threat to a wide range of broadleaved trees. In March 2012 a breeding population was confirmed by Forest Research scientists in the Paddock Wood area near Maidstone in Kent.
The Forestry Commission and the Food & Environment Research Agency (Fera) took immediate action, destroying over 2,000 trees to eradicate the outbreak and to prevent it from spreading.
In 2014, increased government funding for timber and wooden product inspections meant that 122 interceptions on non-compliant wooden packaging and dunnage were made at five British ports.
John Morgan, Head of Plant Health at The Forestry Commission, said: “The first line of defence for our trees and forests is to keep harmful pests and diseases out of the country. We can increase our chances of finding non-compliant material by doing further targeted surveillance work to check on the compliance of imported wood packaging material.
“However, we also think that when we raise the awareness with importers they will be responsible and seek to meet the landing requirements for wood packaging material. Importers will wish to avoid having to destroy, treat or possibly re-export wood packaging material when it represents such a risk.
“This is costly and inconvenient for the importer and we would much prefer that any wood packaging material was fully compliant”.
Some of the interceptions found that wood packaging material and dunnage were often carrying live insect pests and had to be destroyed, treated or re-exported.
The national plant protection organisations for the exporting countries have also been informed and asked to take steps to ensure that exporters are made of aware of and comply with the regulations.
Guidance is available on the Forestry Commission’s website www.forestry.gov.uk/planthealth
http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/wpmflowchartv5.pdf/$FILE/wpmflowchartv5.pdf on page http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-9QKGHM
1. ISPM – International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (Phytosanitary means plant health).