Implementation of ISPM 15 (International wood packaging standard)

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Implementation of ISPM 15 (International wood packaging standard)

The purpose of the project was to study and evaluate the impact of the International Plant Protection Convention's (IPPC’s) standard for the treatment of wood packaging material (ISPM 15). Failure to comply with ISPM 15 could affect market expansion, export earnings and farmer revenue. The study was conducted on exports and imports from Botswana, Cameroon, Kenya and Mozambique. A cost-benefit analysis for implementing ISPM 15 was carried out to assess the main economic, ecological and logistic consequences of its adoption and implementation.

The project produced four country reports and one regional report. These reports yielded policy recommendations to improve compliance with the standard.

Learn more about how the STDF has helped governments and national plant protection organizations (NPPOs) identify policy solutions to improve compliance with ISPM 15 in this 

In 2019, key findings and policy recommendations of this project were published in a paper in the Journal of Environment & Development. Read the paper 

A results story on the project is available here


The rationale of ISPM 15 is reducing the risk of introducing and spreading quarantine pests associated with the international trade of wood packaging material (WPM) made from raw wood. (FAO, 2018)

At present, three treatments are recognized internationally as being effective in providing sufficient protection against the quarantine pests - two heat treatments and a fumigation treatment using methyl bromide.

This project, the first of its kind done in a group of African countries, aimed to address these issues using a quantitative approach with macro and micro data, as well as an ad hoc qualitative analysis. The project developed an econometric model that evaluates the impact ISPM 15 has on the value/number of exports, and economic growth. Country reports produced for the project identify the key challenges that countries face in complying with ISPM 15. Through the project, policy recommendations were developed to facilitate and improve compliance.

Learn more about how the STDF has helped governments and National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) identify policy solutions to improve compliance with ISPM 15 in this documentary.

Note: An explanatory document produced by the IPPC secretariat is available here.


Regional study report

An econometric analysis was produced that looked at the impact of implementing ISPM 15, particularly on the value and number of exports and imports over time. This was achieved through creating a database with a number of macro data variables such as imports, exports, unit value prices, GDP and geographical proximity of the trading countries for the last 15 years; developing an econometric model (gravity model); and data analysis. The regional report produced under the project builds on detailed country reports.

Country-level reports

The second result constituted one country report for each of the participants in the project. Country reports described their implementation of ISPM 15 based on the analyses of national policies, laws, regulations and procedures that have been put in place by NPPOs and government to implement the standard. The reports identified key challenges and put forward policy recommendations to improve the country’s capacity to comply with ISPM 15. Reports were produced based on micro and qualitative data generated from interviewing NPPO representatives and key stakeholders involved in implementing ISPM 15 at the national level.

Policy brief

A policy brief was developed based on the research findings and recommendations set out in the country and regional reports. The aim of the policy brief is twofold: to increase the capacity to design appropriate policies for implementing ISPM 15 in participating countries and to inform non-participating countries and international stakeholders on the best practice to implement the standard.

Training materials for NPPOs

The main findings of the research and the recommendations from the policy brief were used to develop a set of training materials for NPPOs and inter-African phytosanitary council representatives. The training and advocacy materials, which include a short documentary, focus on the main challenges and optimum solutions to equip NPPOs with the knowledge and skills required to strengthen implementation.



For governments

National legislation developed to support ISPM 15 implementation should be broad and flexible to remain relevant and compatible with future revisions of the standard, if any.


Broadly, NPPOs should carefully monitor approved facilities that demonstrate traceability of treatment from the time of application to the time of export. NPPOs have a valuable role in establishing requirements on how approved facilities should operate according to ISPM 15.

  • NPPOs should prepare and publish online documents that clearly outline requirements for WPM treatment facilities.
  • A list of authorized WPM treatment facilities should be publicly available on official NPPO websites. This list should identify the expiry dates of licences held by facilities for carrying out wood packaging treatment.

NPPOs should regularly prepare, and update documents related to facility audits, including information on:

  • Frequency of the audits.
  • Nature of audits and whether they will normally be announced or unannounced audits.
  • Type of controls that will be part of audits, including any documentary evidence that may be required.
  • Any fines or suspensions that arise from non-compliance.
  • Information on penalties for facilities that may refuse audits or are found to be in contravention with the requirements of the standard.

NPPOs should also:

  • Consider implementing a cost-recovery mechanism for audits (such as charging for audits).
  • Highlight that there are currently only three WPM treatments identified in the ISPM 15 standard. This includes heat treatment, using methyl bromide and dielectric heating. NPPOs should provide clarification on the efficacy of the treatments, such as, that all three methods of treatment are equal.
  • Identify an optimal period for the validity of licenses held by WPM treatment facilities.
  • Train and inform officers who use ISPM 15 that care should be taken in applying it.
  • Take a proactive lead in monitoring the treatment of repaired WPMs. They should clarify when the retreatment is required.
  • Monitor informal repair facilities and ensure that compliant WPM does not mix with non-compliant WPM.
  • Prepare and regularly update guidelines for inspectors of imported goods (including fruit, vegetables and other goods like machinery that may use WPM).

 The project also recommends strengthening interagency cooperation between customs and SPS authorities with the view of improving compliance with ISPM 15. Participating and non-participating countries were encouraged to regularly submit policy recommendations to the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures.


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International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) - Erasmus University of Rotterdam