§ Mr. Barry Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what measures he is taking to protect coniferous forests in Wales from depredations by the great spruce bark beetle; how many forest areas in Wales are infected by the great spruce bark beetle; if he proposes to import rhizophagus grandis beetles from Belgium to combat the great spruce bark beetle; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Nicholas Edwards
A vigorous campaign against the great spruce bark beetle—Dendroctonus micans—is being conducted in close collaboration with private woodland owners and the timber trade in the affected area which covers a large part of Wales and some neighbouring English counties. The Restriction on Movement of Spruce Order 1982 controls the movement of spruce timber grown in Wales in the counties of Clwyd, Gwent, Mid-Glamorgan, South Glamorgan, Powys and the district of Meirionydd—Gwynedd—and in England the counties of Gloucestershire, Hereford and Worcester, Shropshire and the district of South Staffordshire. Movement of such timber is subject to Forestry Commission licensing designed to ensure that only material which is free of the beetle is allowed to leave the forest. The Forestry Commission has carried out comprehensive surveys to identify infestations both in its own and private forests including isolated trees and blocks of woodland. All infested trees which are found are felled, stripped of bark and treated. The commission's import controls provide for shipments of spruce wood into Britain to be bark free and subject to inspection at ports of entry.
In Wales, infestations of D. micans have been found so far in 677 locations within commission forests and private woodlands. Infestations at these locations have ranged from single trees to several hundred trees.
Forestry Commission researchers have imported from Belgium several hundred beetles of the species Rhizophagus grandis, and have commenced a breeding programme. R. grandis is a specific predator of D. micans and in continental Europe has been found to be a safe and effective control agent. It is hoped to release R. grandis soon in some affected forests to evaluate its potential for controlling D. micans in this country.