The biosecurity risk from solid wood packaging material - a two edged sword
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Formerly known as the Forest Research Institute, Scion has been a leader in research relating to forest health for over 50 years. The Rotorua-based Crown Research Institute continues to provide science that will protect all forests from damage caused by insect pests, pathogens and weeds. The information presented below arises from these research activities.
From Forest Health News No. 91, November 1999.
The Asian long-horned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) was first discovered on Long Island, New York, in 1996 and then near Chicago in 1998. Approximately 5000 trees have been infested and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has spent nearly $US10 million so far in its eradication attempt. It is believed that the beetle entered the USA in low-grade wood used as export packing material in China. The US Plant Protection and Quarantine service records indicate that the beetle had been twice intercepted as A. glabripennis, and twenty-one times as Anoplophora sp. between 1995 and 1998. However it has probably been intercepted many more times as unidentified larvae. So far A. glabripennis has been intercepted in the USA in Washington, Massachusetts, North Carolina, California, New Jersey, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, Texas and Pennsylvania. Anoplophora glabripennis has also been intercepted on ten occasions since 1992 in British Columbia and Ontario, Canada.
As a result of the successful establishment of A. glabripennis , the USA required, as from 17 December 1998, that all wooden pallets, crating, dunnage and other solid wood packing material be heat treated, fumigated or treated with preservatives before export from China. All shipments containing solid wood packaging material also require certification from the Chinese government that such treatment has been carried out. Canada has similar requirements for solid wood packaging material from China. (Note: three dead specimens of Anoplophora spp., one collected from Chinese casewood and two from Japanese used cars, have been received at Forest Research since July 1995. It is unfortunately that dead insects are no longer to be sent for identification and consequently, such information will no longer be collected. See "Forest Quarantine Samples" FHNews 90. 2, Oct 1999.) The USDA is now considering extending the requirements for solid wood packaging material from China to all such material entering the USA. If such action is taken it is not a huge leap to require that all wood entering the USA should be treated. This is precisely the demands of the conservation groups who, in 1997, sued the USDA to stop the import of non-tropical logs and wood chips into the USA from New Zealand, Chile, Siberia and the Russian Far East. It is becoming ever more important to be able to show that New Zealand's exports are biologically safe and do not pose a biosecurity risk to our trading partners. Biosecurity is an emotive issue as shown in the following quote from a CNN interview of residents of the Asian long-horn infested area of Chicago: "Somebody's supposed to be looking out for this and they didn't. We got invaded. It may not have been the Chinese army. It was the Chinese beetle. We were invaded."
Geoff Ridley, Forest Research
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