Attacks from bark beetles pose serious threat to Bulgarian pine forests. Roselle Chen reports.
Bulgaria’s pine forests threatened by bark beetle
This seemingly harmless bug is devouring pine forests across Bulgaria.
Once planted to fight erosion, trees are falling prey to the bark beetles. The pests are eating trees already weakened by warm weather, dense planting and lack of proper logging.
More than 17,000 acres of pine forests in the Balkan country have been wiped out.
Local experts say the best solution is to replace pines with broad leafed trees usually found at low altitude.
(SOUNDBITE) (Bulgarian) DIRECTOR OF SOUTH WEST FOREST ENTERPRISE, DAMIAN DAMIANOV, SAYING:
“When the recent drought added to other unfavorable factors, we started to see brown-reddish spots everywhere in Bulgarian forests. This is a forced change of one tree species with another. If we look closer we will see that in many places after we take the coniferous trees out, we see the saplings of beech, oak, ash tree. The local broad leafed trees are taking back their normal place.”
Tens of thousands of pines, crushed by a heavy snowfall two years ago in the mountains, were not taken out quickly enough and provided a thriving ground for the bark beetles.
That, coupled with global warming and the lack of proper wood cuts in the past 25 years deprived the trees of the moisture and space they need, making them an easier prey for the insidious insect.