UK requests further evidence after Italy designates oak processionary moth pest-free area

The Italian National Plant Protection Organisation has notified the UK of the establishment of a pest-free area (PFA) for oak processionary moth (OPM), in the Pistoia nursery district and some parts of the municipality of Montemurlo in Tuscany.

The UK has requested further evidence to make sure that the PFA demonstrates the required international standards and meets the strengthened UK import requirements.

Until the UK receives satisfactory evidence of compliance, UK companies will not be able to import from this area into the UK.

From 4 October 2019, the Plant Health and Seed Inspectorate (PHSI) will issue a statutory notice for any oak trees (Quercus L) imported from this area. The notice will require the trees to be destroyed or re-exported. The only exception is the Q. suber, with a girth at 1.2m above the root collar of 8cm or more.

Existing requirements on OPM freedom will continue to apply for trees with a smaller girth than 8cm.

For any oak trees arriving before the 4 October,  APHA must be informed within five days of arrival of the consignment.

Currently, strengthened legislation requires that imports into and movements within the OPM Protected Zone in the UK can only take place if the oak trees concerned (i.e. those with a girth at 1.2m above the root collar of 8cm or more): 

  • have been grown throughout their life in places of production in countries in which Thaumetopoea processionea L. is not known to occur;
  • have been grown throughout their life in a Protected Zone which is recognised as such for Thaumetopoea processionea L. or in an area free from Thaumetopoea processionea L., established by the national plant protection organisation in accordance with ISPM No. 4; or
  • have been grown throughout their life in a site with complete physical protection against the introduction of Thaumetopoea processionea L. and have been inspected at appropriate times and found to be free.

It is understood that any imports of oaks from the Italian PFA will be imported under the second option and that until the further evidence is provided, the Italian PFA is currently unable to meet the requirements of the second option.

All landings of oak plants in England must be pre-notified to APHA to facilitate targeted inspections for pests and disease, this can include both a physical and documentary check.

Trading oak within the UK core and control zones is not affected by this legislation. However larger oak trees cannot be moved from the UK core or control zone, into the UK Protected Zone, unless they have been grown under complete physical protection at an official authorised site throughout their lifetime. In addition, oak trees can only be moved from the UK core and control zone into the UK Protected Zone if they come from an officially authorised site and are accompanied by a plant passport confirming they are free of OPM, with additional requirements for larger oak trees. All oak trees moving into and within the UK Protected Zone must be accompanied by a plant passport regardless of the size of the consignment.

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