In the context of ensuring fair and safe trade as well as observing the International Year of Plant Health 2020, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) is making a clarion call to the exporters, importers and all other role-players involved in the international trading of agricultural and non-agricultural products involving wood-packaging material to comply with ISPM 15 (International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures – guidelines for regulating wood-packaging material in international trade).

Untreated wood-packaging material can be a pathway for the introduction of pests of economic concern that may negatively affect the country’s natural resources, especially those of agriculture and forestry. Regulated wood-packaging material includes coniferous and non-coniferous raw wood-packaging material. This covers wood-packaging material such as pallets, dunnage, crating, packing blocks, drums, cases, loading boards, pallet collars and skids, which can be present in any imported or exported consignments.

Treatment and marking methods for wood packaging

Currently, heat treatment, dielectric heating and fumigation with methyl bromide or sulphuryl fluoride are the only approved treatments for wood-packaging material. These treatments are considered significantly effective against most pests of living trees associated with wood-packaging material. Irrespective of the type of treatment applied, wood packaging must be made of debarked wood.

Treated wood-packaging material should bear the appropriate international plant protection convention mark to certify that the wood-packaging material has been subjected to the approved phytosanitary measure. Markings should be rectangular or square in shape, surrounded by borderlines with a vertical line separating IPPC logo from country information, legible, permanent and non-transferable, have no additional information within borders of the mark and must not be hand-drawn.

Markings should be placed in a visible location, on two opposite sides of the article being certified. The use of red or orange colours must be avoided because these are used only for hazardous goods. Remanufactured wood-packaging material must be re-treated and marked in accordance with ISPM 15.

Service providers are required to mark wood-packaging material with a treatment date as a traceability and control measure. The date must consist of a day, month and year and strictly be placed outside the borders of IPPC mark. Wood-packaging material can only be treated and marked by service providers that are registered with the DALRRD in terms of ISPM 15.

Raising awareness of phytosanitary requirements

Organisations such as freight forwarders, cross border road transport associations, fresh produce exporters’ forums, import and export agencies, post offices, air and maritime freight logistics companies, motor and mining industry, as well as other relevant organisations and or industries are requested to assist in raising awareness among their members and ensure compliance with ISPM 15 and related phytosanitary requirements.

Compliance with ISPM 15 and other related phytosanitary measures will assist in ensuring smooth, fair and safe trade as well as enhancing economic growth. Any party that requires training on ISPM 15 can forward a request to the National Plant Protection Organisation of South Africa, which falls under the DALRRD.

Shipments or consignments with a non-complying, wood-packaging material may be subject to treatment, destruction or refused entry. – Media release, Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development