Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arboricultural Association.

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OPM programme update

Author:  Forestry Commission
Last Updated:  27/05/2020

Andrew Hoppit, OPM Project Manager, Forestry Commission

In light of Coronavirus, Defra and the Forestry Commission considered whether work should go ahead to manage OPM during these challenging times. Colleagues carried out a review of critical functions and concluded that the control of OPM should continue. All OPM work will take place in line with government measures on Coronavirus.

OPM caterpillars were first spotted emerging from their egg plaques in London on 6 April – slightly later than in 2019.

OPM Infestation Map 2019

OPM infestation 2019, showing the extent of the core zone.

Spraying sites

The OPM team is working hard on the 2020 programme. Part of this process is to issue Statutory Plant Health Notices; over 1200 notices were due to be sent in April, setting out what needs to be done. Control will continue through most of May.

You will see from the map below that there is no boundary change to the core zone for 2020. Our contractors (Advanced Tree Services & Bartlett Tree Experts) have received their work orders and will be prioritising control on the periphery of OPM populations initially (red dots closest to the green dotted line on the map) before moving into London. Your cooperation with the control programme is much appreciated.

Given the very challenging circumstances at this time, we will have to take a pragmatic approach to OPM works this year. It might not be possible to arrange safe access to a site, and we will be working closely with landowners to identify these sites and adapt plans as required.


We intend to undertake a visual survey for OPM starting in June. This survey will be based in areas where we have limited knowledge of OPM. Last year there were a number of interceptions of OPM across Britain, and this year we will continue to monitor these sites through visual surveying and pheromone trapping. We still encourage you to report all OPM sightings to us via the online portal Tree Alert www.forestresearch.gov.uk/treealert. Alternatively you can send in your reports to opm@forestrycommission.gov.uk.


Please familiarise yourself with the information on our webpages at www.forestresearch.gov.uk/opm. These are updated frequently, and are our main source of information about OPM. They include an OPM Manual with guidance on all aspects of OPM management. There is also printable material, including leaflets and posters, that can be used for education/awareness, found under ‘Further information resources’ at the very bottom of the OPM landing page.

As in previous years, if your oak trees are in the core zone you are responsible for monitoring them for OPM and taking action where appropriate.

And finally…

Help us provide comprehensive, up-to-date OPM reports outside of Defra/FC work by sending information on your OPM activity to opm@forestrycommission.gov.uk. Thank you in advance to everyone who will be contributing time, skills and resources to this year’s programme. OPM can only be tackled with strong partnership working. Therefore, your contributions are always greatly appreciated.

Read OPM Programme Update 1

This article was taken form Issue 189 Summer 2020 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.