§ Mrs. Winifred Ewing
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the threat to Scottish forests by the pine beauty moth.
§ Mr. Hugh D. Brown
The pine beauty moth is indigenous to Scots pine but has never posed a serious threat to that species in this country. It first infested the Forestry Commission's Lodgepole pine plantations in 1976 and quickly reached epidemic proportions, killing some 250 hectares of trees. In 1978 the Commission successfully treated 4,800 hectares of Lodgepole pine in Caithness and Sutherland with the chemical fenitrothion, achieving a 97 per cent. mortality rate. A report on this operation, to be published shortly, indicates that there were no apparent effects on the environment.
Further outbreaks have since been identified in five Commission forests, including areas in Moray and Galloway, totalling some 3,500 hectares. Subject to clearance under the pesticides safety precaution scheme, these will be treated with fenitrothion later this year and the 731W operations will again be carefully monitored by the Nature Conservancy Council and other environmental organisations. The Commission is also giving training, advice and some technical assistance to private foresters, and will be keeping a close watch on the situation in the private sector.