SERIOUS MONDAY: EUROPE’S PINE FORESTS UNDER THREAT

There aren’t many experiences to beat that of a walk through a pine forest – with the crunch of crisp needles underfoot and the incredible scent from the pines.

So it’s devastating to hear that experts fear the spread of a killer bug that has already destroyed forests in East Asia.  Japan’s massive pine colonies were wiped out by this same bug 30 years ago and it invaded Portugal almost 10 years ago – killing hundreds of thousands of trees within just three years.

Experts fear the outbreak is now out of control and predict that it could  spread widely – affecting both maritime pine and our own beautiful Scots pine,  the most widespread pine in Europe (and a favourite choice for Christmas trees.)

Tight restrictions have already been introduced in Portugal and all pine must be disinfected before being exported but the bug is carried by a flying beetle so clearly, port restrictions won’t protect its neighbours from the flight of the beetle.

And an expert from Britain’s Forestry Commission warned recently that given the scale of its spread to date, the bug will be very difficult to wipe out.

I’m lucky enough to live within travelling distance of Kielder Forest – the largest forest in England and home to one of Europe’s largest man-made lakes.  A lot of the trees are other species but it has a lot of  Scots pine and I’d hate to see it hit by such a terrible disease.

(You can get an idea of Kielder’s beauty in this video but it doesn’t really do justice to the sense of awe that you feel walking through this incredible forest so if you can get there, don’t miss it.
 (It is one of the last strongholds of our beloved red squirrel and has been officially voted England’s most tranquil spot by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.)

Susan

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