‘Time bomb’: Tree-killing bugs threaten France’s lush forests

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By Dainik Khabre

‘Time bomb’: Tree-killing bugs threaten France’s lush forests

NEW DELHI: France is grappling with a brand new ecological problem because it battles an invasion of bark beetles within the scenic forest of La Teste-de-Buch, positioned within the Gironde area within the southwest. These harmful beetles at the moment are infesting weakened pine bushes, which have been beforehand ravaged by devastating wildfires final yr, reported AFP.
Matthieu Cabaussel, one of many custodians answerable for managing La Teste-de-Buch’s personal forest, described the yr 2023 as one other important setback, following the tragic wildfires of the earlier yr.
The stenographer bark beetle, a small brown insect with a wingspan of half a centimeter, primarily targets pine bushes which have already been broken by hearth or extreme storms. The beetles lay their eggs within the tree’s bark, and as soon as hatched, the larvae burrow into the tree’s trunk, in the end inflicting the tree’s demise.
In an space the place majestic 250-year-old maritime pines as soon as stood, the forest now resonates with the sound of equipment as employees interact in tree felling, pruning, chopping, and eradicating bushes which have fallen sufferer to those parasites.
According to AFP, Throughout observe 214, which traverses the La Teste-de-Buch forest, stacks of logs accumulate, symbolizing a brand new environmental peril in a area nonetheless reeling from the destruction of roughly 30,000 hectares (74,100 acres) of forest attributable to wildfires the earlier yr.
Experts emphasize the need of tree removing to fight the bark beetle infestations, an issue that extends past La Teste-de-Buch, affecting different forests in japanese France and Eastern Europe as effectively.
“Cutting affected trees is the only way to fight this,” Francis Maugard, pure dangers supervisor on the National Forests Office (ONF), a authorities company, instructed AFP.
Pheromone traps have been utilized by Maugard to gauge the extent of the infestation. Near the famend Dune of Pilat, which occurs to be Europe’s tallest sand dune, ONF promptly initiated a tree-felling marketing campaign inside La Teste‘s nationwide forest, the place roughly half of the forest had succumbed to wildfires.
The removing of round 80,000 cubic meters of wooden came about, which is equal to the quantity that will usually be harvested over the span of twenty years. However, within the case of the personal forest, which suffered intensive injury with virtually 3,800 hectares scorched within the wildfires, the response was not as swift, and tree-cutting actions solely commenced in January.
Herve Jactel, related to the French National Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Environment (INRAE), expressed criticism for such an method, deeming it as “ineffective management.” Jactel, who serves as a analysis director on the institute’s BioGeCo laboratory, additionally raised considerations relating to the storage of infested wooden inside the forest.
“It was the ideal breeding environment,” he stated, noting that bark beetles have additionally reproduced sooner because of the excessive summer season temperatures.
“This is a real time bomb,” he stated. “If we do nothing, spring 2024 will be a thousand times more dangerous.”
Cabaussel, concerned within the administration of La Teste-de-Buch’s personal forest, acknowledged a number of challenges, such because the excessive temperatures and lowered demand, which have impeded the method of eradicating the infested bushes.
By late October, roughly 270,000 tons of wooden had already been faraway from the personal forest, with at the least double that quantity but to be harvested.
Cabaussel’s intention is to implement all required measures, which embody tree chopping in the course of the winter season when the bark beetles are dormant, in an effort to shield the close by forests.
The infestation of the bark beetles has even prolonged into the city areas of La Teste, necessitating the removing of pine bushes from residents’ gardens.
“There is a risk of population explosion,” stated Francois Hervieu, Regional Directorate for Food, Agriculture and Forestry (DRAAF), however added that the risk was manageable.
“We are in a situation which requires the greatest vigilance to evacuate the trees in due time.”
The ADDUFU, a group group with historic rights to reap wooden from the forest, has requested the institution of particular websites for the right storage and removing of wooden.
“There is still a huge amount of wood to be taken out and we are afraid,” stated Philippe Fur, vp at ADDUFU. He feared that the issue would solely worsen sooner or later.
“The disaster that we’ve suffered is serious because we will not see an old forest in our lifetime again,” Cabaussel stated.
“But the forest ecosystems will recover very well.”
In the decimated woods of La Teste-de-Buch, nature is already reclaiming its rights — small pine saplings have popped up amid the charred tree stumps and ferns.

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