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Chalara - Effects of 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 Hymenoscyphus fraxineus fungus, which causes Chalara dieback.

Ash wood and bark can be infected by the fungus, but there is a limited risk of the disease being spread via infected wood and bark. Wood and wood products can be treated to prevent disease spread.

There has been no amendment to the regulation of wood and timber movements into and within Britain in relation to Chalara, 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 from all woodlands, whether they are free from H. fraxineus or whether they are suspected or confirmed as infected.

At all woodlands and sites we recommend the simple precaution of removing leaf material from logs or firewood while it is still on site on site as a precaution to reduce the possibility of the disease being spread 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)  Wood of Ash (Fraxinus spp.) and some other less-traded species which provide a pathway for Emerald Ash Borer, originating in Canada, China, North Korea, Japan, Mongolia, South Korea, Russia, Taiwan or the USA: European Commission revised landing requirements came into force on 3 October 2014 via an amendment to The Plant Health (Forestry) (England and Scotland) Order 2014. These requirements apply to all types of solid ash wood and include furniture or other objects made of untreated wood. They are that:

(i) it originates in an area recognised by the European Commission as being free from Emerald Ash Borer. The name of the area must be declared on the phytosanitary certificate;
(ii) its bark, and at least 2.5cm of the outer sapwood, have been removed in a facility authorised and supervised by the national plant protection organisation; or
(iii) the wood has undergone ionizing irradiation to achieve a minimum absorbed dose of 1kGy throughout the wood.

Wood in the form of chips or particles must continue to be accompanied by an official statement that it originates in an area recognised by the European Commission as being free from Emerald Ash Borer. The name of the area shall be declared on the phytosanitary certificate.

Woodchips of ash originating in the countries listed above must also originate in an area recognised by the European Commission as being free from Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis). The name of the area shall be declared on the accompanying phytosanitary certificate.

In December 2014 the European Commission introduced a derogation which included the following landing requirements for sawn wood of ash originating in Canada and the USA: 

 (i) it must originate in an area established by the national plant protection organisation in the country of export as being free from Emerald Ash Borer in accordance with relevant International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures; or

(ii) it is squared so as to entirely remove the round surface; and 

(iii) it shall have been subject to visual inspections, sampling and testing as appropriate to the properties of those plant products and other objects, to ensure that they are free from Emerald Ash Borer in accordance with the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures No 23 on guidelines for inspection.

This derogation will remain in force until 31 December 2015

Wood exports from Great Britain

Guidance on the conditions for export of wood and wood products.

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
  • it is squared so as to remove entirely the rounded surface; or
  • it is bark-free and the moisture content (mc) is below 20%; or
  • it 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 regulations is also available from:

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

T: 0300 067 5155