‘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 timber, which had been beforehand ravaged by devastating wildfires final 12 months, reported AFP.
Matthieu Cabaussel, one of many custodians liable for managing La Teste-de-Buch’s personal forest, described the 12 months 2023 as one other vital setback, following the tragic wildfires of the earlier 12 months.
The stenographer bark beetle, a small brown insect with a wingspan of half a centimeter, primarily targets pine timber which have already been broken by fireplace 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, finally 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 timber which have fallen sufferer to those parasites.
In accordance with AFP, All through monitor 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 as a result of wildfires the earlier 12 months.
Consultants emphasize the need of tree elimination to fight the bark beetle infestations, an issue that extends past La Teste-de-Buch, affecting different forests in japanese France and Japanese Europe as nicely.
“Slicing affected timber is the one solution to battle this,” Francis Maugard, pure dangers supervisor on the Nationwide Forests Workplace (ONF), a authorities company, advised AFP.
Pheromone traps had been utilized by Maugard to gauge the extent of the infestation. Close to 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 elimination of round 80,000 cubic meters of wooden befell, which is equal to the quantity that will usually be harvested over the span of 20 years. Nonetheless, within the case of the personal forest, which suffered in depth harm with nearly 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 Nationwide Institute for Agriculture, Meals, and Surroundings (INRAE), expressed criticism for such an strategy, deeming it as “ineffective administration.” Jactel, who serves as a analysis director on the institute’s BioGeCo laboratory, additionally raised considerations concerning the storage of infested wooden inside the forest.
“It was the best breeding surroundings,” he stated, noting that bark beetles have additionally reproduced quicker as a result of excessive summer time temperatures.
“It is a actual time bomb,” he stated. “If we do nothing, spring 2024 might be a thousand instances extra harmful.”
Cabaussel, concerned within the administration of La Teste-de-Buch’s personal forest, acknowledged a number of challenges, such because the excessive temperatures and diminished demand, which have impeded the method of eradicating the infested timber.
By late October, roughly 270,000 tons of wooden had already been faraway from the personal forest, with a minimum of double that quantity but to be harvested.
Cabaussel’s intention is to implement all required measures, which embody tree chopping through the winter season when the bark beetles are dormant, with a view to shield the close by forests.
The infestation of the bark beetles has even prolonged into the city areas of La Teste, necessitating the elimination of pine timber from residents’ gardens.
“There’s a threat of inhabitants explosion,” stated Francois Hervieu, Regional Directorate for Meals, Agriculture and Forestry (DRAAF), however added that the menace was manageable.
“We’re in a state of affairs which requires the best vigilance to evacuate the timber in due time.”
The ADDUFU, a neighborhood group with historic rights to reap wooden from the forest, has requested the institution of particular websites for the correct storage and elimination of wooden.
“There’s nonetheless an enormous quantity of wooden to be taken out and we’re afraid,” stated Philippe Fur, vp at ADDUFU. He feared that the issue would solely worsen sooner or later.
“The catastrophe that we have suffered is severe as a result of we won’t see an outdated forest in our lifetime once more,” Cabaussel stated.
“However the forest ecosystems will get well very nicely.”
Within 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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