The UK has received official notification from the Italian National Plant Protection Organisation on the establishment of a Pest Free Area (PFA) in regards to Thaumetopoea processionea (Oak Processionary Moth – OPM) in the Pistoia nursery district as well as some parts of the municipality 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 such time that the UK receives satisfactory evidence of compliance with the required standard, any imports from this area will not be allowed into the UK. 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 suppliers on or after the 4th October 2019 in 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. For any oak trees arriving before the 4th October importers should be informing APHA within 5 days of arrival of the consignment, a link to the notification process can be found below:
Currently the 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 and Wales must be pre-notified to APHA to facilitate targeted inspections for pests and disease, this can include both a physical and documentary check.
Similar arrangements are also in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
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.