Update on City of Johannesburg’s dealings with the shot hole borer infestation

City of Johannesburg's Department of Community Development MMC, Nonhlanhla Sifumba.

The City has announced that it has met with various environmental specialists to discuss plans to eliminate fungus destroying local trees.

According to Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ), the custodians of the City’s street trees, they have met with their counterparts to outline a plan of action in tackling the outbreak and the extent of the infestation of the polyphagous shot hole borer.

The entity met with officials from the urban forestry in government, research institutions, tree maintenance service providers and its internal teams.

According to City Parks, the borer carries fungal spores that infect and eventually kill plants and trees.

Jenny Moodley, the spokesperson for the entity, said the shot hole borer is a minute beetle that embeds its larvae in the inner layers of the tree.

Moodley said the larvae, once matured, then makes their way out of the tree by tunnelling holes.

The lesions on the trees may vary based on the tree species to resemble ‘pinheads’ or a series of ‘gunshots’ that stifle the flow of nutrients through the veins of a tree, resulting in a tree that is visibly diseased from the top.

“This kills the tree and can destroy a cluster of adjacent trees once the young beetles start to nest,” she said.

While a few new sightings of the outbreak continue to be reported, the City has noted that some London Plane trees along Jan Smuts Avenue in Saxonwold have developed a fighting-back mechanism as some wounds are showing positive signs of the tree recuperating from the infestation.

MMC Nonhlanhla Sifumba, for the City’s Department of Community Development, has noted this as a sign of an end to their efforts to combat the fungus.

“While this is an exciting and positive breakthrough that hopefully signals the tail-end of the outbreak, we are also treading cautiously to ensure that we are guided by research findings to confirm that this outbreak is on its way out,” said Sifumba.

City Parks and Zoo is working with the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (Fabi) and the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to ensure that there is a high level of compliance when it comes to the chemical control interventions that are being proposed.

Sifumba reaffirmed the society that there are no known pesticides that have been approved for trials by the DAFF.

“Furthermore, residents with infected trees on their property are urged not to remove a tree if it is not dead, unless it is the Box Elder tree, as it is known to be heavily susceptible to being affected by the borer beetle.”

Residents felling a dead tree that is infested are cautioned to dispose of the dead branches in a responsible manner on their private property by covering it with a taupe and refrain from illegally dumping the dead wood.

Communities can report diseased trees to [email protected]

Details: 011 712-6600 or www.jhbcityparks.com

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  AUTHOR
Thabo Jobo

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