ICF holds meeting on pest and disease imports in wake of Chalara ash dieback outbreak

The Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) has hosted a meeting of the UK's major forest plant buyers to discuss voluntary measures that could be undertaken to reduce the risk of pests and diseases entering the country.

This follows the current outbreak of Chalara ash dieback caused by importing infected plants from Europe, where the disease is now widespread.

The HTA has called for its members to implement a voluntary moratorium on imports of ash while the Woodland Trust goes a step further, seeking an immediate and mandatory ban by governments across the UK.

During the meeting Fountains Forestry, Scottish Woodlands, UPM Tilhill and the Woodland Trust agreed to work together to develop a voluntary  chain of custody for forest nursery plants. Discussions will now to produce a simple scheme which forest nurseries will be required to adopt if they wish to supply these organisations with trees in the future.

ICF executive director Shireen Chambers FICFor said: "The UK’s forests are under considerable threat and we need to ensure that our members are doing all that is possible from a biosecurity perspective when ordering planting stock, in light of the increasing level of risk associated with imported material. We welcome our senior members working cooperatively in this way to set new industry procedures."

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