Tree officers warn of oak processionary moth crisis

The London Tree Officers Association (LTOA) has said the coming oak processionary moth season may be critical, with the Forestry Commission stepping back "in terms of distance and resources".

This may leave London boroughs "pretty much alone in the front line from now on, at least until the inevitable spread of the moth comes to wider attention", it warned.

The LTOA oak processionary moth group is designed to help tree officers share their knowledge and experience of the pest. The LTOA said the human health aspect was not receiving the attention it deserved and sufficient resources were not being made available to ensure eradication. The group is now working on a strategic plan for 2011.

The LTOA has also highlighted problems with closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. A working party found that "many trees are ruined by pruning to allow sight lines for cameras".

It also suggested that tree officers were being blamed when CCTV evidence has been unavailable because of foliage blocking camera views.

The working party said it recognised that there was no comprehensive guidance to oppose such arguments and aimed to produce a document on whether or how to prune and how to balance conflicting demands.

LTOA chair Dave Lofthouse said: "Our working parties are the engine of the LTOA. We see our output only increasing as cuts bite and our members look for better tools to do their jobs effectively with less."

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