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The benefits of UK Forestry outside the EU

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The benefits of UK Forestry outside the EU

Postby Delhiwood » Tue Sep 06, 2016 2:58 pm

I thought I'd share a blog I wrote and posted on my website. I argue here that there are potential benefits of being outside the CAP and EU for UK woodlands. I realise that there are divided opinions on Brexit, but in the field of Woodlands there seem to me to be considerable upsides. I'm not claiming that leaving the EU will stop the transfer of tree diseases from Europe, but it does help reduce the risk.

"This blog argues that UK Forestry may benefit from the UK leaving the EU. It considers the position of Norway, which although a member of EEA does not participate in the Common Agricultural Programme and has greater control over the tree stock in Norway than applies in the EU.

I manage a wood in Wiltshire which is a mixture of nineteenth century trees and newly planted oak, alder, beech, elm, birch, hawthorn and maple.

Under current rules trees can be imported into the UK from the EU. The following trees require notification for import into England and Wales

• Oak
• Pine
• Elm
• Sweet Chestnut
• Plane
• Ash (currently prohibited)
• Prunus (e.g cherry, peach, plum, laurel)

In other words trees largely have freedom of movement within the EU and a surprisingly high number of trees are imported into the UK from the EU. As an example a FOI request established that 1.4 million were imported in January 2015 (an annual rate of 17 million trees).

The Royal Horticultural Society describe it thus:

“Within the European Union (EU) there are no border checks for plants and plant products travelling between member states and, it is possible, to import and export plants freely with very few exceptions.”

But this exposes Forestry in the UK to diseases in the rest of the EU.

To quote the Forestry Commission:

“There is general agreement that the EU’s plant health regime needs strengthening to meet the challenges of the global trading environment of the 21st century. “

Again from the Forestry Commission:

“Oak processionary moth(Thaumetopoea processionae), for example, is believed to have entered London and Berkshire as eggs already laid on semi-mature oak trees imported from continental Europe for a landscaping project.”

At Wood health seminars given by the Forestry Commission, the acceleration of tree diseases in England and Wales since 2000 has been noted, with up to 10 diseases appearing in this period. Tree health is threatened – a good example being the recent new threat of Chalara dieback of ash. “This is a serious disease of ash trees caused by a fungus called Chalara fraxinea, including its sexual stage, Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus. The disease causes leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees, and often leads to tree death, particularly in younger trees.
The disease has caused widespread damage to ash populations in continental Europe, including infection rates of between 60 and 90 per cent of Denmark’s ash trees. The long-term consequences of its entering the natural environment in the UK are likely to be similar, although the degree of mortality cannot yet be predicted with any certainty in our maritime climate.”
The prohibition of Ash imports post dates this disease, before Ash could be imported from the EU.
To be clear, I am not asserting that all the tree diseases which have appeared in the UK in the last 10 years are the consequence of the free movement of trees within the UK, but it is clear that some are.
As a result, a restriction on the level and nature of tree imports more consistent with the rules which apply to other countries would seem a prudent policy to adopt. A UK outside the EU or CAP would allow these controls to be applied and this should help reduce the risk of imported tree diseases.
If we look at Norway, the rules for imports are determined by Norway, under the Regulations for the import of plants into Norway (1964) , Norway has the right to control which plants and trees are imported into Norway regardless of their origin. (There is an exception for the border area with Sweden).
Leaving the CAP provides the UK with an opportunity to improve the security of our woods and forests from diseases imported from Europe. Given the experience since 2000, this opportunity should be taken and government policy should encourage the production of seedling trees in the UK to replace imports."
Delhiwood
 
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Re: The benefits of UK Forestry outside the EU

Postby Terry » Sat Sep 17, 2016 2:52 am

I suspect that control of movement of plants is something the EU needs to be addressing, irrespective of Brexit.
There is a big issue around bio transfer/contamination all round the world and various countires are addressing it.
Australia has strict requirements internally as do other countries
International marine legislation is clamping down on species transfer in various ways, including through ballast water transfer requirements

It is probably a case of closing the door after the horse has bolted considering what has gone on up till now, but there are still new diseases arising that need to be dealt with.
This is an international problem that everybody needs to deal with, so Brexit is irrelevant.
Terry
 
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Location: Forest of Dean

Re: The benefits of UK Forestry outside the EU

Postby adamandeve » Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:23 pm

Hopefully Brexit will enable us to deal with the problem without having to wait for the rest of the EU to do the same?
adamandeve
 
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Re: The benefits of UK Forestry outside the EU

Postby Delhiwood » Wed Sep 28, 2016 12:33 pm

Thanks for the comments.Re Brexit, unless the UK is outside the CAP, I don't think that its possible to restrict imports from the EU.
It is interesting that Tony Kirkham (Head of arboretum,gardens and horticultural services at Royal Botanic Services Kew has said much th same. "The brighter side of Brexit" could be tighter biosecurity rules. Now is "the worst time for tree diseases. Evey year there's a new pest on a different tree."
The latest pest affects Sweet Chestnut and is present in Kent.
We do need to do something on bio security.
Delhiwood
 
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