Developing strategic approaches to oak processionary moth management

Oak is the most common and iconic tree in the UK. It is host to the oak processionary moth (OPM), which was accidentally introduced to the UK in 2005 on imported oak trees planted in London. Hairs on the OPM caterpillar can cause skin and respiratory issues to humans; as a result OPM has been the subject of a control programme to limit its spread.

Oak Processionary Moth

Minimising the impact of OPM

Over time, OPM has continued to spread and is now firmly established in Greater London and some surrounding counties. It 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 pest and its distribution and 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.

Oak processionary moth: a practical toolkit for local authorities

The Tree Council has worked with Defra, Forestry Commission and Forest Research to produce a practical toolkit that will equip local authorities and others responsible for managing trees with the information and tools needed to develop local risk-based management approaches for OPM.

Crucially, the toolkit promotes evidence-led, risk management that balances the need to safeguard public health and wellbeing with maintaining biodiversity and protecting our precious oak trees.

How the toolkit will help you

The OPM toolkit has been written primarily to equip local authorities and land-managers who are responsible for managing trees and greenspaces (especially where there is public access) with the information they need. It also provides useful background information about OPM and insights into the latest relevant policy and practice.

Through a series of case studies, it collects and shares examples of good practice, and it provides a framework for local risk assessments to aid decision-making.