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Chalara - Effects of new legislation on the timber and firewood trades

The legislation passed in Great Britain on Monday, 29th October 2012, was primarily aimed at restricting the importation and movement of ash trees for planting, because these carry the highest risks of spreading the Chalara fraxinea fungus, which causes Chalara dieback.

Ash wood and bark can be infected by the fungus, but wood and wood products can be treated to prevent disease spread. Control over movement of ash wood from infected sites is achieved through statutory Plant Health Notices.

There has been no amendment to the regulation of wood and timber movements into and within Britain, but new legislation has come into effect which controls the movement of ash wood into Ireland.

WOOD MOVEMENTS WITHIN GREAT BRITAIN

Ash wood may continue to be moved within Great Britain except from woodlands or other sites where C. fraxinea has either been confirmed or is suspected, and a statutory Plant Health Notice has been served. Ash logs or firewood may only be moved off these infected sites with authority from the Forestry Commission. The conditions for the movement of infected ash wood are currently under consideration.

In woodlands and sites where no infection is suspected, we recommend the simple precaution of removing leaf material from logs or firewood whilst on site, as a precaution against the possibility that the disease is not obviously apparent and could be spread unintentionally with logs and firewood.

Cases of suspected Chalara dieback should be reported to Defra or the Forestry Commission.

WOOD IMPORTS INTO GREAT BRITAIN

a) From EU countries - ash logs, sawn timber, woodchips and firewood may continue to be imported in the usual way from European Union (EU) countries. In the unlikely event that this material is found to contain infection, we have the powers to take remedial action such as re-export or destruction.

b) From Non-EU countries – ash wood, including sawn timber, woodchips, bark and firewood, may also continue to be imported from certain countries outside the EU under existing regulations against the forestry pest Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) beetle. These require the material to be accompanied by official statements declaring that the material either originated in areas known to be free of EAB or that the wood is bark-free (which addresses the Chalara risk as well) before entering Great Britain.

c) Ash bark and woodchips may also be imported from non-EU countries without a phyto-sanitary certificate provided they have been processed into pieces of not more than 2.5cm thickness and width.

WOOD EXPORTS FROM GREAT BRITAIN

Guidance on the conditions for export of wood and wood products has been updated.

The Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government have introduced legislation to control the movement of ash wood. Ash wood may not be landed from countries where chalara is known to occur unless the wood:

• originates in an area free from chalara (and is accompanied by an official statement to this effect), or;
• is squared so as to remove entirely the rounded surface, or:
• is bark-free and the moisture content (mc) is below 20%, or;
• is sawn with or without residual bark and has been kiln dried to below 20% mc and is marked accordingly, ‘Kiln-dried’ or KD or another internationally recognised mark on wood or packaging.

Detailed advice on the new regulations is also available from the Forestry Commission’s Plant Health Service at the following address:

Plant Health Service
Forestry Commission
Silvan House
231 Corstorphine Rd,
Edinburgh
EH12 7AT

Tel: 0131 314 6414
Email: plant.health@forestry.gsi.go.uk