The eight-toothed spruce bark beetle, a major pest threatening UK forests, is causing significant concern for the forestry and timber industry.

The Forestry Commission issued an urgent warning on Thursday, June 6, to prevent the beetle, known formally as Ips Typographus, from spreading.

An extension to the existing quarantine area was announced following reports of the species on Norway spruce trees in East Anglia.

This beetle, which targets spruce trees and was first detected in the UK in Kent in 2018, has an affinity for stressed or dying trees.

However, it can also assault healthy trees under favourable conditions.

On June 12, a 'lockdown' will be imposed across an enlarged Demarcated area (DMA) in the south east of England and East Anglia to contain the outbreak in accordance with the Forestry Commission's eradication strategy.

In total, 16 areas will face restrictions on their timber business to minimise the spread of these beetles.

They include parts of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey, City of London, Greater London, West Sussex, East Sussex, Kent, Essex and Hampshire.

Business operations in these areas, particularly those dealing with the affected trees, will be curtailed.

As a result of fresh Ips typographus sightings reported to the Forestry Commission, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk have now been included in the enlarged zone.

All business activities including felling of trees and transportation of spruce material including bark, isolated bark and wood chips are banned in this extended area.

Members of the public and businesses are strongly urged to use the TreeAlert online portal to report any suspected sightings of the beetle.

Forestry Commission spokesperson Andrea Deol, said: "Following a report of Ips typographus to the Forestry Commission in East Anglia, we conducted a swift investigation including rapid eradication measures, alongside wider environment surveillance to determine the scale of the issue and identify additional suitable management actions."

Deol also encouraged vigilance amongst local landowners, managers and timber processors, adding: "It is important for landowners to continue to check the health of spruce trees on their land, this is particularly important now we are entering the next flight season."

It is hoped that these measures will curtail the spread of the dreaded eight-toothed spruce bark beetle, ensuring the longevity of the UK's rich forestry.