As part of Operation Taviur, the Guardia Civil has intervened more than 3,729 tons of wooden packaging pallets that poses a risk in the spread of forest pests.
Since last year, the Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) has carried out a total of 828 inspections in this area. Currently, it is investigating a total of 104 people for failing to comply with European regulations.
Specifically, the Guardia Civil has discovered 148 criminal offenses. Among others, these include;
- crimes against natural resources and the environment
- reception crime
- crimes against industrial property
- crimes of misappropriation
- belonging to a criminal organisation
Furthermore, SEPRONA has also registered 299 administrative infractions classified as non-compliance with regulations on plant health, classified activities, waste and discharges, and health and the environment.
Plant health and phytosanitary measures to be adopted
When a wooden packaging or pallet does not receive an adequate sanitary treatment, it may be capable of serving as a vector for the introduction and spread of forest pests in a territory.
Plant pests are responsible for damaging 35 million hectares of forest worldwide each year, with an average of six new species of tree pests being introduced in Europe.
To avoid this risk at the international level, the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures, ISPM 15, is applied, the application of which reduces this risk and describes the approved treatments that can be applied. The ISPM 15 mark certifies that all the components of the wooden packaging that carries it have received an adequate treatment.
Pallets not heat treated
The UPRONAS of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife have carried out international investigations. In them it has been confirmed that companies in the wood sector applied the official ISPM 15 mark on pallets without having received the required heat treatment. In addition, the members of the plot used counterfeit stamps for the application of the ISPM15 marking, illegally acquired from printers involved, which also allowed them to buy them at a lower price than those that had received heat treatment.
This practice was an aggravating factor in the behaviours detected, since current regulations establish that the islands of the Canary archipelago have a third country status for the purposes of phytosanitary inspection due to their particular agroclimatic and ecological conditions.
At the international level, the researchers certified connections with Germany, Vietnam, the United Kingdom and Belarus.
On the other hand, UPRONA of Murcia verified that the Murcian company investigated was engaged in the manufacture and assembly of pallets used in the shipment of merchandise for international trade without having undergone the corresponding heat treatment. This merchandise was traded internationally to countries such as Nigeria, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Israel, Ecuador and the Philippines. This therefore, shows the potential risk of spreading pests.
To date, it is estimated that the losses suffered by all the affected companies amount to more than €8 million.
According to the Guardia Civil, this operation is part of the LIFE GUARDIANS OF NATURE project and within the framework of Operational Action 8.3 of the EMPACT “FORESTRY CRIMES” of EUROPOL in relation to the fight against environmental crimes focused on the protection of forest masses.
The investigations and actions carried out have been possible, in large part, thanks to the invaluable collaboration of the General Directorate of Agricultural Production Health (DGSPA) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA), as it is the competent unit for national level for the application of the International Standard NIMF15.