The Forestry Commission has introduced new legislation which will allow for the movement of large oak trees and trade within the operational zones and boundaries that are in place to help manage oak processionary moths (OPM).

A new demarcated area will be established around the buffer zone and established area and large oak trees with a girth at 1.2m above the root collar of 8cm or more can be moved within this boundary.

This is provided that the trees are moved by professional operators and that biosecurity requirements are met, along with movement restrictions.

“While we understand the importance of professional operators being able to move large oak trees, it is vital that we have in place stringent biosecurity requirements to ensure a risk-based approach for moving these trees,” Oak processionary moth project manager, Andrew Hoppit said.

The OPM is a tree pest which can “have a negative impact on tree health” he added.

As well as this, Hoppit highlighted the impacts it can have on humans, which includes itchy rashes and eye and throat irritations.

Earlier this month, the Forestry Commission urged the public to report sightings of the tree pest, highlighting that the greatest risk period for it is between June and August as the OPM caterpillars emerge to feed before turning into adult moths.

UK chief plant health officer, Prof. Nicola Spence, added: “Healthy oak trees are a vital component of a biodiverse and thriving environmental landscape.

“They are Great Britain’s most important tree for species biodiversity, supporting over 2000 species of bird, mammal, fungi, invertebrate, bryophyte and lichen.

“This is why it is essential that to protect the health of our oak trees, we have regulations in place for the movement of large oak trees within the zones and boundaries designed to manage OPM.”