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Thursday, 10 May 2018 14:57

Shot Hole Borer and our Trees

Johannesburg's urban forest is facing a growing risk in the form of a new beetle called the Polyphagous Shothole Borer (or Euwallacea fornicatus for those who prefer the Latin name).  This threat is capable of detroying a large proportion of Johannesburg's famous urban forest.

This was the message given in a talk given by Julian Ortlepp, a tree sugeon, at a function hosted by the Parktown North Residents Association on 9th May 2018.  Two SAPRA delegates were there.

Initial awareness of this threat was discovered in 2015 and work has progressed at the University of Pretoria since then to learn about this tiny beetle whose home is in S.E. Asia and which has unfortunately been inadvertently imported into South Africa.  The female is 2 mm long and has wings, whilst the male is smaller and has no wings.

The beetle bores a hole into the tree where it lays its eggs.  The damage to the tree is not caused by this wound, but rather the fungus that is carried by the beetle into the hole.  This fungus (Fusarium euwallaceae) grows into the wood of the tree and is the agent that could finally destroy the tree.  More can be learned by clicking here.

Your two delegates also made contact with the Johannesburg Urban Forest Alliance (JUFA), which is an umbrella organisation bringing together Residents', Heritage, Environmental and associated organisations across the city.  SAPRA will be discussing closer liaison with this organisation to help in combatting this threat.

JUFA believes that through communication, co-operation, coordination and collaboration, Johannesburg can remain one of the largest urban forests worldwide.  You can read more about JUFA and the Shothole Borer by clicking here.

Did you know that Johannesburg is the eighth most treed city in the world.  This according to Treepedia of Senseable City Laboratory of MIT, Cambridge, USA.  For more information on interesting work done by this organisation, please click here.

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