FOREST USERS and industry personnel have been advised to be vigilant for a new beetle pest following the first confirmed outbreak in Kent, England.

Ips typographus, also known as the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle, is native to mainland Europe, and has not been found in English woodlands until recently. It poses no threat to human health, but it can be a serious pest of spruce trees and has the potential to cause great damage to the entire forestry sector.

Northern Ireland's chief forest officer, John Joe O’Boyle, said: “Although the pest is not present in NI, this finding increases the level of risk to our local forests. In addition to routine controls already in place at our ports, Forest Service Plant Health staff, assisted by scientists from the Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute, will carry out additional risk based surveys over the coming months.

"We are working closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Dublin to share our knowledge and to ensure we have a coordinated approach to this threat. I would ask forest users to remain vigilant when visiting forests, and report any sightings or symptoms via the TreeCheck website.”

A description of the pest and symptoms of an outbreak are available at:

Anyone can report any concerns using or by phone on 0300 200 784.