Scotland & Ireland Ramp-Up Bark Bettle Restrictions at Port

Scottish authorities have made changes to spruce import rules amid fears that beetles could infiltrate buffer zones.

Tue 13 Feb 24


Scotland has imposed new restrictions on exported timber in response to the growing Bark Bettle crisis.

Announced over the weekend, Scottish Forestry is now working with Northern Ireland and Irish authorities to “reduce the risks posed by the great spruce bark beetle, Dendroctonus micans”.

The new restrictions are the latest in Ireland’s bid to maintain its pest-free status while continuing the export of Scottish timber to the nation.

Currently, the only timber exported to Ireland comes from the west of Scotland’s Pest Free Area (PFA).

New restrictions will see a 35km buffer zone around findings of the Dendroctonus micans (D. micans) bark beetle. Under the new measures, spruce timber moving from Scotland to Ireland can only travel through the buffer zone between October 1 and March 31, outside the beetle’s flying season.

Also, during this period, the timber will not be stored in buffer zones; however, it can still be loaded at ports.

“Both the West of Scotland and the island of Ireland have a pest-free status for D. micans and several other bark beetles,” James Nott, Head of Tree Health at Scottish Forestry, said, adding that “it is important to maintain this status, as it allows trade to continue.”

“In Scotland, the D. micans bark beetle is getting gradually closer to the PFA boundary,” and whilst acknowledging that no beetles had been found inside the PFA, “it is no longer possible to guarantee freedom from this beetle in all areas.”

“As a precautionary measure, to maintain the integrity of the rest of the west of Scotland PFA, it is necessary to introduce measures to mitigate the risk.”

“This action will enable trade from the rest of the PFA to continue. However, if the beetles continue to spread, the longer-term prospect is for the west of Scotland PFA area to reduce and ultimately close.”

Ireland’s Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Pippa Hackett, has welcomed the news, adding that her “department has worked closely over several months with the Scottish authorities to arrive at an outcome that will protect Irish forests.

“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 is maintained and that Irish forests are protected.”

Minister Hackett was clear that the bark beetle situation in Scotland remains a “concern” for Ireland; “the presence of Dendroctonous micans in Scotland is a real concern.”

“My department’s priority has been to ensure that any imports are pest-free, so now is an appropriate time to take these additional steps and to reduce the area within the Scottish PFA from which logs can be exported to Ireland.”

“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.”


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