Wood packaging and pallet producers and recyclers operating without valid international phytosanitary standard ISPM 15 certificates are now liable to prosecution by the Forestry Commission after ISPM 15 gained legal status in the UK.

The Plant Health (Wood Packaging Material Marking) (Forestry) Order 2006 was made by the Forestry Commissioners and agreed by the Treasury, becoming law on November 6.

ISPM 15 specifies that sawn wood packaging, including pallets, must be heat treated or fumigated to kill pests of quarantine concern prior to export. Packaging must be stamped with an approved mark by the final assembler before being shipped to or passing through a country which has implemented ISPM 15.

Roddie Burgess, the Forestry Commission’s head of plant health, said 721 members were signed up to the commision’s UK Wood Packaging Material Marking Programme, which is administered by the Timber Packaging and Pallet Confederation (TIMCON). He said he was confident that most companies making pallets for export were now part of the marking programme, which started five years ago.

“The biggest change is that it means penalties for anybody who acts outside the marking programme,” said Mr Burgess. “We have the power to seize equipment and destroy it.”

Most members of the marking programme are manufacturers of wooden packaging who are buying in heat treated wood, while 93 have heat treatment facilities and nine have fumigation services.

Mr Burgess said a recent significant increase in the number of heat treatment facilities was due to the RAF having a number of its own treatment facilities accredited.