Local governments to join the fight
Local governments are being asked to begin risk management planning to minimise the impact of European House Borer (EHB) within Council boundaries.
The Department of Agriculture and Food is proposing to assist local governments in Restricted Movement Zones (RMZ) to develop an EHB Risk Management Plan (RMP). EHB is a destructive pest of untreated softwoods such as pine, and risk management can play an important role in minimising EHB damage and spread.
RMZs are areas established around EHB infestations, in which restrictions on untreated pinewood movement, disposal and storage exist. Both RMZ areas and restrictions are determined by the Agriculture and Related Resources Protection (European House Borer) Regulations 2006.
Risk assessment looks at all areas of Council administration affected by regulations, as well as other strategies to minimise EHB infestation risk in local government areas.
The RMP process is not complicated, and would begin with assessment of such EHB risks, including the existence of untreated pine products and timber on local government landholdings. Based on the assessment, the RMP would outline a process for approval and advice when moving, treating, storing, disposing of or destroying untreated pinewood within Council areas.
The issue of pine movement is particularly important during the EHB flight season, which occurs in the warmer months between September and April, when EHB beetles emerge to mate and lay eggs. During this time, beetles are more likely to infest pinewood that is exposed to the environment, or to hitchhike on pinewood being transported through local government areas.
Another important RMP inclusion would be the maintenance of good hygiene practices, such as cutting off dead branches and removing deadwood from areas where live pine trees remain.
Ideally risk assessment would also look at all relevant policies and regulations, such as the Building Commission Advisory Notes 2009/002 and 2009/004, which state that all structural pine used in RMZ areas must be treated to minimise the risk of EHB infestation. On the basis of such advice, an RMP should consider making all building approvals subject to treated pine use.
Without risk management, there is a chance that residential homes built with untreated pine could become infested with EHB. To date, there has been one confirmed case of a roof infestation resulting from nearby EHB infested trees.
The difficulty with detection is that EHB larvae can live inside structural timbers for between 2-12 years without any noticeable signs. It is only when the adult beetle emerges that exit holes are created.
Initiatives implemented by other Councils to minimise EHB spread could provide a useful model on which to base RMPs. Unique initiatives worth considering include revised waste management and recycling practices, such as offering untreated pinewood waste removal for local businesses, or including EHB advertising in any waste management and recycling promotions.
RMZs have grown to cover 158 infested areas across 52 suburbs in the greater Perth metropolitan area. Please refer to RMZ maps for updated RMZ areas.
Please address media enquiries to:
Karolina Fransson, Communications Officer, EHB Program
Mobile: 0448 486 921
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