Estonian ash trees may be endangered by the spread of a destructive pest which has already wrought havoc in wooded areas across the border in Russia, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Friday.
The state Agriculture and Food Board (PTA) has installed hundreds of glue traps across Eastern Estonia, with the aim of combatting the problem of emerald ash borers, an invasive species highly destructive to ash trees.
While no outbreaks have yet reached Estonia, the issue has blighted trees in the Leningrad oblast, which borders Estonia.
Ülle Metsman, adviser at the PTA, told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" that: "We have not at present found emerald ash borers in Estonia, though, since it is quite an agile flyer - it can move several dozen kilometers in the space of a year [it might reach Estonia that way]."
"An even quicker 'option' could involve the bug attaching itself somehow to any means of transport, for example, under the tarpaulin of a train or a truck, and coming that way . This is one of the species special characteristics, that he it can also move onwards as a 'hitchhiker'," Metsman went on.
In order to detect any of the uninvited guests as early as possible, 250 glue traps have been placed next to major roads in different places in Estonia, and particularly around Narva.
Metsman said that should any of the beetles be found stuck in the glue traps, the next step is to search for evidence of damage to nearby trees – if detected, the affected trees unfortunately have to be chopped down, which can be a particularly big job if it involves trees in urban areas.
The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), is a wood beetle about a centimeter in length and, as its name hints at, green in color, which is feared for its very high destructive power. Its larvae cause the bulk of the damage and have ravaged forests in North-Eastern China, in North America and, now, in Russia.
Ash tree stocks in Estonia have already been decimated in the past by disease, meaning the threat of the borer is even more worrying.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera', reporter Jüri Nikolajev.