Beijing will launch a campaign against assaults by alien insect
species on the city's trees to guarantee plenty of greenery for the
2008 Olympic Games, said a senior forestry
Wei Diansheng, director of the Forestation Department at the
State Forestry Administration (SFA), said Hyphantria cunea, or the
American White Moth, a species native to North America, could pose
a threat to Beijing's vision of holding a "Green Olympics".
A family of American White Moth larvae can eat all the leaves
off a healthy tree in just a few days. The species was first
spotted in Beijing and surrounding areas, including Tianjin
Municipality and Hebei Province, in 2005.
An investigation by the SFA showed that in 2005, 156,000
hectares of trees were stricken by the moths. The moths had spread
to an additional 67,000 hectares in the following year.
The destructive moths are expected to devour another 47,000
hectares of trees in Beijing and its adjacent regions this year,
"Given the grave situation, we must stick to our prevention goal
to ensure Beijing's ecological security as well as the success of
the Green Olympics," he said.
The SFA has no statistics on the economic losses caused by the
American White Moth, though it has placed the prevention and
control of insect pests at the top of its working agenda, giving
the issue the same importance as preventing fires.
"Because of the timely measures the capital took to combat the
moth, a serious outbreak in Beijing is not a foregone conclusion,"
the SFA said "But the area round Beijing should keep on high
Beijing and Hebei planned to prepare planes to spray insecticide
on 115,000 hectares of trees that are at risk of destruction or
have already been attacked by the moths. Other measures, like
making light traps and cultivating the moth's natural enemies, are
Beijing, Tianjin and three other nearby provinces have pooled
about 66 million yuan (US$8.3 million) to help pay for the
Plant diseases and insect pests are expected to pose more
serious threats this year than in the past, the SFA has said.
More than 11 million hectares of trees nationwide are expected
to be attacked by plant diseases, insect pests, rats, rabbits and
In addition to the American White Moths, the species
Dendroctonus valens leconte is also at the center of focus of
prevention and control efforts by the forestry management
department. Such pests, which also originated in North America, are
expected to harm 80,000 hectares of trees this year, or 20 percent
less than last year.
Warm winter weather, a global outbreak of pest disasters and a
high ratio of young and vulnerable trees in China's forests have
all contributed to the challenge of containing invasive alien
species, according to the SFA.
The SFA is planning a long-term cooperative effort with the
meteorological administration in a bid to predict potential attacks
by pests and other harmful species. The effort had a trial run on
March 6, during Jingzhe, one of the 24 points on the Chinese lunar
calendar, signifying the point when insects hatch.
(China Daily April 5, 2007)