Spruce bark beetle damage increasingly visible in Virumaa

A patch of forest with bark beetle damage in Ida-Viru County.
A patch of forest with bark beetle damage in Ida-Viru County. Source: Dmitri Fedotkin/ERR

While Southeastern Estonia has been having bark beetle trouble for years, the pest is increasingly gaining a foothold in Virumaa. Forest roads are one way hot pockets of the ruinous insects are created.

The spruce bark beetle has long been a nuisance for forest owners in Southern Estonia. But more specimens have been caught in Virumaa, made up of Lääne-Viru and Ida-Viru counties, recently.

"If there has been an outbreak in Southeastern Estonia for the last five or six years, we have been picking up on beetle damage also in the northeast in the past two," said Taivo Denks, head of the forests department of the Environment Agency.

One place where bark beetle damage is most visible is the Sompa crossroads on the Kohtla-Järve – Mäetaguse road. Trees started dying there three years after the State Forest Management Center (RMK) built a forest road.

"If you cut down a swath of forest for access, the trees lining it will have their living conditions altered, they are weakened because the edge of the path is open to the sun and winds. The trees become weaker and that is just where the bark beetle likes to settle," Denks said.

The spread of the spruce bark beetle can be monitored using a special map available at the Environment Agency's Environment Portal (Keskkonnaportaal).

"People can use nature observation apps to mark areas where new outbreaks can be seen. This helps forest owners to find damaged patches near their land and go see how their forest is doing."

The spruce bark beetle can smell an inhabitable tree from a kilometer away.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Marcus Turovski

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