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Bark beetle imports a wake-up call for sector -- IFA

The interception by the Forest Service of imported firewood with live bark beetle larvae was described as a serious wake-up call for the sector.

Pat Hennessy, of the IFA farm forestry committee, said the incident could have posed a serious threat to the health of Irish forests.

He said this highlighted the potential risk to Irish forests from prohibited imported timber products and he thanked the member of the public who notified the Forest Service.

"The health of Irish forests must be protected as an outbreak would have a devastating impact on forest owners and the forest industry," Mr Hennessy said. "Irish forests are among the healthiest in Europe and everyone has a responsibility to ensure that the strict plant regulations are maintained to protect the national forest estate against the introduction and spread of exotic forest pest and disease threats."

He encouraged people to buy Irish-grown timber products, as this was the best way to protect the health of Irish forests and support local producers.

The bark beetle is one of the most serious threats to the health of forests across Europe, particularly spruce forests, but it is not yet present in Ireland.

They reproduce in the inner bark of the tree and if enough beetles are present, they can kill the tree within four weeks. The only control measure available is to harvest and destroy infected trees.

Declan O'Brien

Indo Farming