“Significant new measures” relating to the import requirements of timber from Scotland are being rolled out as part of the Department of Agriculture’s bid to keep Ireland’s forestry estate free from bark beetle.
Spruce roundwood from within the 35km buffer zone imposed around the “most recent findings” of the great spruce bark beetle will no longer be certified for export to Ireland from March and any shipments containing spruce roundwood from within these zones must be cleared through an Irish port before April.
In 12 months’ time, there will be an opportunity for this buffer zone to be expanded by 10km, subject to the agreement of Scottish and Irish authorities.
The move follows “extensive engagement” between the Department and Scottish Forestry – the agency responsible for regulating Scotland’s forestry sector.
Minister of State Pippa Hackett announced the new controls as being a “positive step in maintaining Ireland’s protected zone status for certain forestry pests”.
“My Department has had detailed discussions on these new measures with its Scottish counterparts, with the overall aim of ensuring that the integrity of the pest-free area (PFA) is maintained and that Irish forests are protected,” she said.
The minister referred to the presence of the great spruce bark beetle in Scotland as a “real concern” for Ireland’s forests, stating that the Department’s priority is to import timber pest-free.
“I am supportive of the steps taken by Scottish Forestry with the input of my officials,” she said.
“The new measures will ensure that no further phytosanitary certificates will be issued for the movement of spruce roundwood to the island of Ireland originating from any area inside the PFA that falls within a 35km buffer zone imposed around the most recent findings.
"This is a significant step. My Department will continue to closely monitor the situation in Scotland and take all the steps necessary to ensure that Irish forestry is protected."
Minister Hackett added that a forest health stakeholder group will be formed “very shortly” to report forest health concerns as a matter of urgency.