Defra Update: Oak processionary moth and oak tree imports from Italy

7 October 2019

In July 2019, the government introduced strengthened national measures to protect England from the threat of the tree pest oak processionary moth. This followed interceptions of the pest on recently planted trees imported from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

The bolstered measures only permit imports of certain oak trees including:

  • those from OPM free countries
  • those from designated pest-free areas, including Protected Zone
  • those grown under complete physical protection for their lifetime

The UK has now received official notification from the Italian National Plant Protection Organisation on the establishment of a Pest Free Area (PFA) for oak processionary moth in the Pistoia nursery district as well as some parts of Montemurlo in Tuscany. The UK have asked for further evidence to make sure that the PFA demonstrates the required international standards and that it meets the strengthened UK import requirements.

Until the UK receives satisfactory evidence of compliance with the required standard, any imports of oak trees subject to the strengthened UK legislation from this area will not be permitted.

From 4 October 2019, in the event that the UK receives any imports of oak trees (Quercus L) other than Q. suber, with a girth at 1.2m above the root collar of 8cm or more, from the area designated as the Italian PFA, a statutory notice will be issued by the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI) that will require that the trees are either destroyed or re-exported.

Existing requirements on OPM freedom will continue to apply for trees with a smaller girth than 8cm. Importers should now be informing APHA within five days of arrival of imported consignments of oak trees, a link to the notification process can be found below:

Full details are on the Defra Plant Health Portal