New plant health requirements are being introduced following confirmation of eight-toothed spruce bark beetle findings in Suffolk and Norfolk.

The Forestry Commission said rapid eradication measures were taking place, alongside swift action to extend the existing demarcated area in the South East of England into East Anglia.

Woodland managers, landowners and the forestry industry are urged to be vigilant and report any sightings online after the first Ips typographus finding of the 2024 season.

The pest was found on Norway spruce in East Anglia.

“The eight-toothed spruce bark beetle is a serious pest of spruce trees in Europe and was first identified in the UK in Kent in 2018,” said the Forestry Commission.

“It prefers stressed or dying trees but under the right conditions it can attack healthy trees and has the potential to cause significant damage to Great Britain’s forestry and timber industries.”

An extended larger demarcated area was due to come into force on June 12 in the South East of England and East Anglia.

The existing demarcated area, last extended in 2022, covers parts of Hampshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey, City of London, Greater London, West Sussex, East Sussex, Kent, Essex and Hampshire. After findings of Ips typographus were reported to Forestry Commission, the extended zone will now cover parts of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk.

Within these areas, the felling and movement of all spruce material, including trees and wood with bark, isolated bark, and wood chip with bark, is prohibited within the demarcated area unless authorised by the Forestry Commission. 

Additionally, processing of spruce material which has originated in the demarcated area may only be undertaken at premises authorised by the Forestry Commission to receive this material and there is also a prohibition of susceptible material being left in situ, unless authorised in writing by a plant health inspector.