Most of south China's Hainan
Province has been invaded by an alien species of coconut leaf
beetle, which is posing an unprecedented threat to trees of the
palm family in the province such as coconut palms.
Hainan's forestry officials have called for more efforts and
funds to save the trees on the island, which is nicknamed "the
island of coconuts."
Statistics from Hainan Provincial Forestry Department show that
more than 1.8 million trees of the palm family on the island are
currently infected with the pest, which is also named coconut
hispid or palm leaf beetle.
According to Zhou Yanhua, vice director of Hainan Forestry
Bureau, the beetle was first discovered in the province in June
By January, the species has affected an area of 390,000 hectares
in the province, where there are a total of nearly 8.2 million
trees of the palm family. Sixteen of the province's 18 cities and
counties are affected.
In January alone, an additional 2,600 trees were infected and
3,800 more showed symptoms. The disaster has so far caused economic
losses of over 100 million yuan (US$12 million).
Experts warned that if the pest is not effectively brought under
control, all of the coconut palms on the island could be
Since 2003, the central government and the provincial government
have allocated 7.5 million yuan (US$906,000) for the disaster
(China Daily February 19, 2005)