The introduction of significant new measures by Scottish Forestry to restrict spruce log imports from western Scotland has been welcomed by Minister of State Pippa Hackett, following “extensive engagement” with her Department.

“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.

“The presence of the great spruce bark beetle – Dendroctonous micans – is a real concern [and] my Department’s priority has been to ensure that any imports are pest free,” she said.

Scottish Forestry stated that no further phytosanitary certificates “are being issued for the movement of spruce roundwood to the island of Ireland originating from any area inside the pest-free area that falls within a 35km buffer zone imposed around the most recent findings of Dendroctonous micans”.

“After 12 months, there will be a presumption to expand the buffer by a further 10km,” a spokesperson for Scottish Forestry said.

Dieback in Sitka spruce as a result of damage caused by the great spruce bark beetle. \ Forestry Commission

Following discussions with the IFA, a forest health stakeholders engagement group is being established, which “will facilitate direct engagement between the Department and forest health stakeholders from the industry and interest groups,” said a Department spokesperson.

“This will create a forum for discussion, opinion and action,” he added.

Temporary ban

“We welcome the establishment of the forest health group and new import restrictions,” said Geraldine O’Sullivan of IFA farm forestry committee.

“However, the risk is far too great to our forests, so we reiterate our call for a temporary ban on spruce imports from Scotland,” she added.

“The Government needs to de-risk the decision to plant, and provide assurances that if farmers decide to plant, their investment will be protected,” said Jason Fleming, chair of the IFA farm forestry group.

“The introduction of the bark beetle would devastate our forestry and forest products industry, which is why the Social, Environment and Economic Forum (SEEFA) is supporting the IFA’s call for a temporary ban,” said Teige Ryan of None-So-Hardy.


“While we are disappointed at the reduction of the PFA, the Department has had comprehensive correspondence and discussions with its counterparts in Scotland and has adopted a precautionary approach in moving the boundaries of this area,” said John Murray, chair of the Irish Timber Council and director of Murray Timber Group.

“The PFA has been in existence for many decades and has been 100% effective,” he added.

“We are pleased that both the Irish and Scottish authorities have agreed robust measures to ensure ongoing safe movement of logs between the pest-free zones in Ireland and Scotland,” said Traolach Layton of GP Wood.

“We are satisfied that the stringent controls will protect the forests of Ireland, which are the basis of our industry, and we will comply fully.”