The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has implemented an inspection regime for imports of roundwood logs from a pest-free area (PFA) in Scotland. This move comes in response to concerns about the potential threat posed by the bark beetle. According to the department, all coniferous roundwood timber imports into Ireland must comply with the EU Plant Health Regulation, and importers must be registered as professional operators.
Importers in Ireland are strictly prohibited from importing roundwood from areas known to be affected by quarantine bark beetle species. The only exception is for imports from a specific UK Government authority-assigned ‘pest-free area’ in the west of Scotland. A spokesperson from DAFM informed Agriland that the department has been engaging directly with Scottish forestry authorities, Northern Ireland, and the European Commission to ensure the maintenance of the pest-free status of the island of Ireland. This is particularly important as the bark beetle has been detected outside the PFA in Britain.
All imports from the Scottish PFA must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the UK Government authority, in accordance with the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). This certificate confirms that the logs meet the phytosanitary import requirements of both Ireland and the EU. DAFM emphasized that it regularly collaborates with stakeholders to assess phytosanitary risks. Furthermore, the department has invested significantly in EU border control post facilities, which enable inspections of plants and plant products from non-EU countries. This investment aligns with the launch of the Plant Health and Biosecurity Strategy 2020-2025.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is calling for a temporary suspension of timber imports from Scotland until a comprehensive review of biosecurity measures for the great spruce bark beetle is conducted. The IFA has highlighted that this insect is now an established pest in southern Scotland and is gradually expanding its range northwards. The bark beetle lays eggs by tunneling into the bark of living trees, and the larvae then feed on the woody material, creating cavities that weaken and eventually kill the tree. Jason Fleming, Chair of the IFA Farm Forestry Committee, has urged the government to take this threat to the Irish forestry sector more seriously, given the gravity of the situation. Fleming also emphasized the need for the immediate establishment of a Spruce Bark Beetle Taskforce.
In response to the IFA’s concerns, a spokesperson from DAFM stated that any actions taken by Ireland to address pest threats must be in compliance with EU Plant Health Regulations and the International Plant Protection Convention.