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Other Issues (08-07-2008)

Commission adopts measures to protect coniferous forests and restrictions on trade of wood and plants from Portugal

The European Commission decided recently to impose restrictions on the trade of coniferous plants and wood from Portugal in an effort to contain the spread of pine wood nematode. The Commission's measures also provide for the destruction of infected and symptomatic trees.

The whole of continental Portugal has been officially demarcated for the control of pine wood nematode, including a buffer zone of 20 km wide in Portugal along the border with Spain. Infested trees and symptomatic trees in Portugal have to be cut and processed under official supervision to avoid further spread of the pine wood nematode. In case the nematode is detected in the buffer zone, all susceptible trees in a radius of 50 m around the affected tree will have to be destroyed. All movements of coniferous wood, bark and susceptible plants from continental Portugal into other Member States and third countries are now prohibited, unless the material has first been subjected to an appropriate heat treatment or for plants, appropriate inspection.

Traceability, and confirmation of the treatment, is to be ensured by attaching a plant passport to each unit within a consignment. The measures also apply to wood packaging material newly produced from coniferous wood originating in Portugal, which will require an internationally recognized mark.

The pine wood nematode, a harmful organism to a broad range of coniferous plants with quarantine status within the EU, was for the first time detected in Europe in 1999, in the pine forests in the Setubal area, south of Lisbon in Portugal.