DAERA issues warning after Bark beetle outbreak

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The Northern Ireland Forest Service has advised forest users and industry personnel to be vigilant for a new beetle pest following the first confirmed outbreak in Kent, England.

Ips typographus, also known as the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle, is native to mainland Europe and has recently been found in woodlands in Kent. This is the first time it has been discovered in UK forests. It poses no threat to human health, however, it can be a serious pest of spruce trees and has the potential to cause great damage to the entire forestry sector.

DAERA’s Chief Forest Officer, John Joe O’Boyle said: “Although the pest is not present in Northern Ireland, this finding increases the level of risk to our local forests. In addition to routine controls already in place at our ports, Forest Service Plant Health staff, assisted by scientists from the Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute (AFBI), will carry out additional risk based surveys over the coming months.

“We are working closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in Dublin to share our knowledge and to ensure we have a coordinated approach to this threat. I would ask forest users to remain vigilant when visiting forests, and report any sightings or symptoms via the TreeCheck website.”

A description of the pest and symptoms of an outbreak are available at: www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/eight-toothed-spruce-bark-beetle-ips-typographus

Anyone can report any concerns using TreeCheck (www.treecheck.net) or by phone on 0300 200 784.