Agenda item

Tree Pests and Diseases: Oak Processionary Moth Urgent Update

Report of the Director of Open Spaces.


Members noted a report of the Director of Open Spaces regarding tree pests and diseases providing an urgent update on Oak Processionary Moth (OPM). The following comments were made:


·         The Director of Open Spaces stated that the report went to the Open Spaces & City Gardens in December to approve the submission of a bid for additional resources to the Resource Allocation Sub Committee for future financial years from 2019/20, highlighting OPM as a new and significant resource demand in the medium-term financial planning process which was approved.


·         The report has gone as an update to all Open Spaces Committees as the spread of OPM now reaches all of the Corporation’s Open Spaces and is recorded in all 32 London Boroughs and the City of London.


·         Members were advised that the disease was a significant public health risk and the focus for controlling the pest was to protect public car parks, children’s parks, paths and sports areas where members of the public were most at risk. An education programme is also in development to educate the public on OPM and what to do should they encounter it.


·         Members were advised that Hampstead Heath was the longest affected space with OPM first identified in 2015. Based on the experience at Hampstead Heath, it was predicted that the number of nests in the other Open Spaces would increase dramatically in 2019 including Queen’s Park; however, it was noted that Queen’s Park only had a small number of oak trees.


·         Treatment includes zoning targeted high-risk areas, the spraying of trees and nest removal, along with significant forest research in conjunction with the Forestry Commission.


·         It was agreed with the Forestry Commission that Hampstead Heath would be used as a pilot site to tackle OPM. This pilot scheme would assist with the development of a national programme of best practice to control OPM.


·         In response to a query regarding the education, Members were advised that the Forestry Commission and DEFRA were already working with schools and an educational programme would be coming to schools soon. PHE were also helping with education and good communication were ongoing with doctors and vets to ensure they were aware of the risks and signs.


·         A Member suggested liaising with garden centres to advertise the risks of OPM.


·         Members were advised that electronic versions of leaflets and information regarding OPM was available on the Forestry Commission’s website and could be printed off. The Director of Open Spaces also agreed to supply some printed leaflets. The Chairman suggested that Members take leaflets to community groups to ensure the local community were aware.


·         The Director of Open Spaces was happy for the contents of his report to be circulated and agreed to keep the Group updated on OPM matters over the season.




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