IFA Farm Forestry Chairman Pat Hennessy said the recent interception by the Forest Service of imported firewood with live bark beetle larvae could have posed a serious threat to health of Irish forests. He said this highlighted the potential risk to Irish forests from prohibited imported timber products and thanked the member of the public that notified the Forest Service.
He said, “The health of Irish forests must be protected, as an outbreak would have devastating impacts for forest owners and the forest industry. 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 as well as support local producers. He said that a lot of private forest owners had established local firewood businesses in recent years to satisfy the growing demand for firewood.
The bark beetle is one of the most serious threats to health of forests across Europe, particularly spruce forests, but 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 currently available is to harvest and destroy infected trees.
“Plant regulations in Ireland demand that the importation of coniferous wood with bark attached is strictly prohibited and the timber must be kiln dried,” said Mr. Hennessy. “If you have concerns or suspect that a timber product infringes plant regulations contact Forest Protection Section of the Forest Service immediately on 01 607 265.”