The destructive eight-toothed spruce bark beetle, Ips Typographus, which has caused widespread damage to forests across Europe, has so far not been found on the island of Ireland. However, if this pest should be allowed to gain entry through the importation of timber with bark on it would be a national disaster and will make the Ash Dieback emergency look simple.

As things stand, we import substantial quantities of logs with bark on for processing by Irish sawmills.  Much of this timber comes from Scotland. Recently, the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle was discovered in Fife, on the East coast of Scotland and consequently there is an increased risk associated with in the importation of those logs.

The IFO wishes to highlight the continued risks involved in the importation of logs that have not been debarked onto this island. We ask the Minister for Agriculture to take urgent action to deal with this increasing risk to protect the future of the forest industry in Ireland.

Specifically, we suggest they liaise with their counterpart in Northern Ireland to adopt an All-Island approach to defend our Protected Zone Status against this and other bark beetle pests. Unless the Department can absolutely guarantee that the inspections at ports throughout the Island of Ireland are sufficient to prevent the important of the bark beetle, a ban on the importation of timber that is not bark-free must be issued.

All foresters, forest owners and other stakeholders are asked to be vigilant for unusual ill-health in trees or evidence of bark beetle and report any concerns to forestprotection@agriculture.gov.ie or by using the Tree Check App which is freely available at: https://www.treecheck.net/.