Area of restricted movement and operation in England extended

13 July 2022

As part of continued surveillance work, Ips typographus outbreak sites have now been confirmed in woodlands in Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex and Surrey.

The findings follow the outbreaks found in 2021 in areas of woodland in Kent and East Sussex. These findings were confirmed following enhanced Forestry Commission plant health surveillance activity, and all sites were subject to intensive eradication action.

To protect the country against this pest, under powers conferred by The Official Controls (Plant Health and Genetically Modified Organisms) (England) Regulations 2019, the Forestry Commission introduced restrictions on the movement and methods of forest operations in a demarcated area in December 2021.

In response to these new findings, a revised Notice will come into force on 20 July 2022. Both the notice and a map of the extended area can be found here.

Defra will continue to review the demarcated area, informed by the latest available evidence.

What should you do?

All landowners and timber processors in the demarcated area and wider South East England should remain vigilant for the pest and:

  • Check whether they have spruce
  • Identify stressed trees
  • Consider removing stressed during their next harvesting season

Active management will help reduce the risk of infestation. All suspected symptoms of the bark beetle must be reported to the Forestry Commission via the TreeAlert portal under Plant Health Regulation or, if the pest is suspected in a private residence or nursery, to your local APHA Plant Health Inspector.

Over the longer term, the Forestry Commission is encouraging landowners to remove susceptible spruce (stressed, windblown) from this region and replant with other species. There is a Tree Health Pilot this year which provides funding for landowners who are eligible to facilitate this objective.

Additionally, the Forestry Commission has developed a detailed management plan with the objective of eradicating the pest from outbreak sites. The approach is based on the successful management of the 2021 and 2018 outbreaks.

Swift action is taken as soon as findings are confirmed to minimise the risk of spread. Following the discovery of a breeding population of the pest, it is necessary to fell and remove spruce within the immediate vicinity in a biosecure manner to prevent further spread.

At this stage Defra cannot rule out the discovery of further cases in other areas beyond the immediate infestation. If new information becomes available, or there is a significant up-scale in the level of infestation or number of affected sites, then they will need to review the management approach.

Further context

The outbreaks of Ips typographus in 2021, along with the previous outbreak found in 2018, are believed to have resulted from natural dispersal (blow over) of the pest from the continent. The 2018 outbreak site has been subject to intensive eradication action over the last three years, and all indications are that these efforts have been successful.

It is unlikely that the latest outbreaks are related, and evidence suggests they result from separate incursion events.

As part of the ongoing programme of work to manage the risks of Ips typographus, an extensive network of pheromone traps have been positioned across the South East of England, to monitor for incursions of beetles from the continent and identify suspect sites.

These traps routinely catch a few beetles (<10), indicating a continual low level of blow-over from the continent. Monitoring activities are also continuing at wood processing facilities/merchants and nurseries trading in large conifer trees.

Ips typographus is regulated in the UK as a Quarantine Pest and Defra are obligated to act against the current findings to support maintaining this status.

The beetle poses no threat to human health but can be a serious and destructive pest of spruce tree species.