Developing strategic approaches to Oak Processionary Moth management

Oak is the most common and most iconic tree in the UK. It is host to the Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) which was first introduced to London on imported oak trees in 2005. Hairs on the caterpillar cause irritation and rashes to humans; as a result OPM has been the subject of an intense control programme to limit its spread. The Tree Council is working with Defra and Forest Research to investigate possible strategic responses to the pest.

OPM: A toolkit for Local Authorities

In spite of the efforts made to stop it, it is likely that OPM will spread across the UK during the next ten years. It may be impossible to limit its spread without causing irreversible damage to other species of insects that are reliant on oak trees, but there is a concern that if it becomes common, people may avoid planting oak trees in public spaces due to the potential health risks.

The Tree Council is therefore working with Local Authorities to develop strategic solutions which will limit the impact of OPM on humans, while maintaining biodiversity and ensuring that oaks remain an integral part of the UK treescape for everyone to enjoy.

A Toolkit for addressing OPM

We are working with Fera Science Limited (formerly the Food and Environment Research Agency) to prepare an OPM Toolkit with the support of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It will bring together guidance and case studies from local authorities already tackling the issue.

It will contain resources and materials created by Local Authorities and other agencies as they manage the impacts of OPM. Through this process, OPM best practice will develop and as new materials or amendments to these examples become available, we will update this document. It will allow best practice developed by those in areas where OPM has been established for some time to be applied to areas that are newly affected by the pest.

We are releasing a Toolkit on addressing OPM in the coming months. Sign up to our newsletter to get updates.