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BETA Your feedback will help us improve the UK Plant Health Information Portal

Plant Health Pest Free Areas and Protected Zones

From 1st January 2021, Great Britain (GB) will no longer use the EU designation of Protected Zones (PZs), and instead will use the internationally recognised term of Pest Free Areas (PFA). This page will be updated to reflect these changes soon. Northern Ireland continues to operate PZs as part of the EU's SPS zone.

Pest Free Areas in Great Britain

GB has two PFAs established in line with ISPM4 (Requirements for the establishment of pest free areas), one in the West of Scotland for 3 species of bark beetle (Dendroctonus micans, Ips cembrae and Ips sexdentatus), and one in the southeast of England for oak processionary moth (OPM, Thaumetopoea processionea). Extensive information on OPM is available on the Forest Research website.

A dossier for the West Scotland PFA is available below. A dossier for oak processionary moth will be published soon.

Protected Zones

A protected zone (PZ) is defined in the EU Plant Health Directive as a zone in which a harmful organism which is established in parts of the EU, is not endemic or established despite favourable conditions. 

A harmful organism is considered as established in an area if it is known to occur there and if no official measures are being taken towards eradication, or such measures have proved ineffective over a period of two successive years.  To maintain PZs it is important to take prompt eradication action against all findings and to demonstrate that the action is successful.  There is an annual review process whereby survey reports for current PZs are considered by the EU Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, to ensure that such designations remain justified.   Member states must carry out regular and systematic official surveys to support PZs and must immediately report any findings to the Commission.

The implications of a PZ

Implementing PZ status for a particular organism has associated costs as well as the benefits of maintaining freedom from the organism.  Ongoing surveillance and inspections are necessary to establish that the territory remains free of the organism concerned.  For businesses involved in commercial trade this will often mean annual inspections by UK Plant Health Authority inspectors to be authorised to issue plant passports, with recovery of costs. The UK Government also carries out surveillance of non-authorised premises, and wider environment areas where appropriate, which is a cost to the taxpayer and resources need to be made available for this specific purpose.

In cases of outbreaks there is an obligation to eradicate these, if the PZ is to be retained.  This involves costs for the landowner/occupier in terms of loss of the plants/products and disposal costs. There are costs to UK Governments in terms of inspection, advice, sampling and testing.  Depending on the nature of the organism and the hosts it affects, eradication can be a costly and lengthy process, which may not always be successful.

The practical requirements associated with maintaining pest freedom also need to be considered.  Where pests move naturally, or on pathways where detection is not straightforward (e.g. in latent form, or in soil), it makes it difficult to identify requirements which give a reasonable degree of assurance of ensuring pest freedom.  This could result in requirements which are very costly to implement, or which involve compromise, meaning that the PZ will be more difficult to sustain with a higher likelihood of having to deal with outbreaks.

Protected zone status means that there will be restrictions on suppliers in countries where the relevant organism is present.  This has implications for importers and customers in the UK. 

The benefits of a PZ

In terms of the benefits of maintaining freedom from the organism concerned include trade benefits of avoiding yield loss and lower pesticide use and often wider environmental and social benefits of keeping the UK environment free from harmful plant pests.  In plant health terms, the UK is in a privileged position of having the opportunity to protect against certain threats which could spread by natural means on continental Europe.  Therefore, there is the opportunity to consider PZ status for some pests, where it would not be realistic to do so elsewhere in the EU.

Where there is the opportunity to exclude a pest this is generally a better approach than trying to deal with outbreaks as they arise.  It is also the case that, should outbreaks in a PZ prove too difficult or costly to manage, a PZ can be revoked and a new policy adopted.

Harmful organisms for which the UK is currently recognised as a PZ

Listed below are the harmful organisms for which the UK currently has a PZ. Guidance on the plant passport requirements for these PZs is available from the Animal and Plant Health Agency. 

New EU legislation will come into force on the 01 January 2018 that makes permanent a number of temporary PZs that have been in place for at least two years, or in the case of the Tobacco whitefly Bemisia tabaci, amend the requirements of an existing PZ.  Specific guidance regarding the implications of these changes for plant passports is also available from the Animal and Plant Health Agency.



 Scientific name

 Common name


 Beet necrotic yellow vein  virus


 Northern Ireland only

 Liriomyza bryoniae

 Tomato leaf miner

 Northern Ireland only

 Liriomyza huidobrensis

 Serpentine leaf miner

 Northern Ireland only

 Liriomyza trifolii

 American serpentine leaf miner

 Northern Ireland only

 Erwinia amylovora


 Channel Islands & the Isle of Man

 Bemisia tabaci

 Tobacco whitefly

 UK & Crown Dependencies

 Leptinotarsa decemlineata

 Colorado beetle

 UK & Crown Dependencies

 Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni

 A bacterial leaf spot of Prunus

 UK & Crown Dependencies

 Paysandisia archon

 South American palm borer

 UK & Crown Dependencies

 Rhynchophorus ferrugineus

 Red palm weevil

 UK & Crown Dependencies


 Scientific name

 Common name


 Ips typographus

 Eight-toothed spruce bark beetle 

 UK & Crown Dependencies

 Ips amitinus

 Smaller eight-toothed bark beetle 

 UK & Crown Dependencies

 Ips duplicatus

 Northern spruce bark beetle 

 UK & Crown Dependencies

 Ips cembrae

 Large larch bark beetle 

 Northern Ireland & the Isle of Man

 Ips sexdentatus

 Six-toothed pine bark beetle

 Northern Ireland & the Isle of Man

 Dendroctonus micans

 Great European spruce bark  beetle 

 Jersey, Northern Ireland & the Isle of Man

 Cephalcia lariciphila

 Web spinning larch sawfly 

 Jersey, Northern Ireland & the Isle of Man

 Gilpinia hercyniae

 European spruce sawfly 

 Jersey, Northern Ireland & the Isle of Man 

 Entoleuca mammata

 Hypoxylon canker 

 Northern Ireland only 

 Cryphonectria parasitica

 Sweet chestnut blight

 UK & Crown Dependencies

 Dryocosmus kuriphilus

 Oriental chestnut gall wasp

 UK & Crown Dependencies

 Thaumetopoea processionea

 Oak Processionary Moth

 UK & Crown Dependencies (Except certain local authorities in England)

 Thaumetopoea pityocampa

 Pine processionary moth

 UK & Crown Dependencies

 Candidatus Phytoplasma ulmi

 Elm yellows 

UK & Crown Dependencies