Tighter restrictions on the import of oak trees have today been introduced to protect native trees from the threat of the tree pest oak processionary moth (OPM).
The improved measures will only permit imports of certain oak trees, including:
- those from OPM-free countries
- those from designated pest-free areas, including Protected Zones (PZ) - an area of the European Union declared free of OPM
- those that have been grown under complete physical protection for their lifetime
Woodland managers, landowners, the forest industry and tree nurseries are being urged to remain vigilant and inspect any recently planted large oak trees for OPM after 2 intercepted findings of OPM were confirmed in Wales on trees recently imported from Europe.
If OPM is suspected, the public should not attempt to destroy or move infected material themselves as the nests and caterpillars can pose some risks to human health.
Further information on how to identify OPM can be found at the Forest Research website. To report sightings of pests and diseases, use the TreeAlert online portal.
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy Rural Affairs said:
“Oak trees are Great Britain’s most important tree for species biodiversity, supporting over 2000 species of bird, mammal, fungi, invertebrate, bryophyte and lichen. It is crucial we do all we can to protect this iconic tree and the value we derive from this natural asset.
“Following the recent cases of OPM in Wales, it is essential we further strengthen our import controls on oak trees. These new restriction will help us reduce the impact of the oak processionary moth and give robust protection for our oak trees.”