Arboriculturists encouraged to take OPM survey

Arboriculturists encouraged to take OPM survey

Arboriculturists working in areas affected by oak processionary moth (OPM) are being encouraged to help control efforts by taking part in a confidential survey by the Forestry Commission.

OPM is a pest of oak trees which was accidentally introduced about 10 years ago. Its caterpillars’ hairs also pose a human and animal health risk from a toxin which on contact can cause irritating rashes, breathing difficulties and eye problems.

The Forestry Commission leads the programme to control the pest to limit its distribution, population and impacts. James Roberts, Biosecurity Officer, explained:

“Arboriculturists are well placed to help us control OPM. Their work means they are likely to be the first to see nests and caterpillars, so their reports of sightings can be a valuable supplement to our formal surveys.

“But they also have a further role by ensuring they do not move oak material to places or in a way which could help to spread the pest.

“As part of our efforts to help them to protect themselves from the risks and ensure they do not inadvertently spread the pest, we’d like to gather information about how much they already know about it. This includes the regulations about moving oak material in the affected areas, and other relevant aspects of their work.

“The information will help us to better understand arboriculturists’ business, which in turn will enable us to manage the pest more effectively, whilst minimising impact on normal business activity.

“I can reassure them that the survey is completely anonymous, and no individual business or person will be identifiable from the final survey report.”

There are two outbreaks of OPM in London and one in Berkshire.

Take the Survey

The survey can be completed on line at bit.ly/OPM-survey and further information about OPM is available at www.forestry.gov.uk/opm.

Enquiries about the survey can be made by email to plant_health_england@forestry.gsi.gov.uk or by telephone to 0300 067 4321.

Jack Whitaker

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