The UK’s oaks are a vital and valued part of our urban and rural landscapes. They are a cornerstone of Britain’s biodiversity, providing habitat and food for over 2,300 species of flora and fauna. While native oaks are well-adapted to local pests and diseases, they are increasingly threatened by those introduced from further afield.
Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) was accidentally introduced in England in 2005 and is now firmly established in Greater London and some surrounding counties. It is likely to spread to new areas over time. OPM will not be eradicated but, with an informed approach, its impact can be minimised. Those responsible for managing trees need to be aware of the potential spread of OPM into new areas and, where it is present, take a risk-based approach that balances public health with the highly important ecological and social benefits provided by oak trees and their associated biodiversity.
Local authorities have a duty to act if they become aware of the presence of OPM. Other land-owners and managers should also take steps to assess and manage the risk appropriately.
This guide is based on extensive research and collaboration with those local authorities at the forefront of managing OPM in the UK. It seeks to be a helpful resource primarily for local authorities, but also to provide useful advice for others responsible for managing land that is accessible to the public. It provides information about OPM identification and lifecycle, surveying methods, risk assessment and the pros and cons of possible management options. It points to existing sources of information and support, equipping users of the guide with the tools needed to develop an effective, appropriate response to OPM.