Today, PEIISC member and Plant Protection Program Officer with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Jennifer Cameron, fills us in on a major pathway for invasive species – wood packaging material.
WOOD PACKAGING – A PATHWAY FOR INVASION
One of the highest-risk pathways for invasion of new forest pests into Canada is through wood packaging. Wood packaging can be pallets, crates, boxes, dunnage, etc. that is used in shipping of products around the world. Wood-boring insects could be inside this wood only to emerge months later in a new location. Canada requires that all wood packaging from offshore must be treated to kill any insects or diseases that might be lurking in the wood. Heat treatment is the most common method used. Wood packaging must be stamped with the International Plant Protection Convention stamp and include the country of origin, treatment used, and a code indicating the facility that produced the packaging.
Even with the requirements for all wood packaging to be treated, some still sneaks in. Just a few insects in a piece of wood can start a new population, and in a new place where the natural enemies of that insect don’t occur there is plenty of opportunity for invasion. Many of the serious forest pests in North America are believed to have arrived through wood packaging. This includes Asian Longhorn Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer, and the Brown Spruce Longhorned Beetle. Pest surveys for these and other potential invaders concentrate on areas near ports, industrial parks and waste facilities where wood packaging may accumulate. This is to try to detect new outbreaks before they get too big, while eradication might still be possible.