Northern Ireland

8,600 bags of wood recalled over bark beetle fears

Bark beetle Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The bark beetle could cause significant damage to trees if it became established in Northern Ireland

Six major retailers in Northern Ireland have had to destroy or send back thousands of bags of firewood they had on sale because it posed a potential risk to commercial forestry.

A total of 8,600 bags of conifer firewood were taken off the shelves.

It followed an inspection by plant inspectors from the Forest Service.

They found the wood was from Britain where a certain type of beetle exists that is not present in NI, and that the wood did not comply with regulations.

Were the bark beetle to be carried in the firewood and become established in Northern Ireland it could cause "significant damage" to coniferous trees.

Strict conditions

Commercial forestry is an important business in Northern Ireland; last year the Forest Service sold 400,000 cubic metres of wood.

There are strict conditions around importation of some firewood under plant health regulations.

It can carry serious tree pests like species of bark beetle or other diseases.

To reduce the risk of their introduction special rules apply to species of tree known to be hosts.

They require firewood produced from spruce, pine or other coniferous trees being brought into Northern Ireland to be stripped of pine, or to be kiln dried and accompanied by a plant passport.

The inspections happened in March, and the incident was recorded in the Forest Service's annual report.

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