THE spread of Red palm Weevil is rapidly reaching a plague of biblical proportions, an expert has warned.
“More thanr 20,000 Canary Palms have so far perished within the Valencian community and if not eradicated soon, the province will lose every single Canary Palm, the trade mark of the Costa Blanca.
“This no-holds-barred message was delivered by top palm weevil expert Dr Michel Ferry at a seminar that included organiser Carole Saunders and fellow Calpe councilor Ana Sala, responsible for the local environment.
During the meeting, Dr Ferry leading scientist with the French national Research Institute (INRA) also warned that if the weevil is allowed to destroy all Canary Palms in the region, it is a distinct possibility that the species will seek survival by automatically adapting to attack other species of palms in search for food.
As a direct result of the meeting, Ana Sala held emergency talks with European Member of Parliament for Alicante, Eva Ortiz, pointing out that the situation is getting beyond the control of local authorities and that assistance from the European Union is absolutely necessary if the community is to stand any chance of killing off this deadly plague.
Subsequently it was confirmed that the Commission has now entered talks with the government of the Valencian Community to discuss an immediate action plan, including the setting up of a special budget to finance the process of weevil eradication.
MEP Eva Ortiz also pointed out that measures taken by the European Parliament on the subject of pesticides will by the year 2014, require ‘sustainable biological methods’ to combat pests and that they are currently researching potential solutions of maximum effectiveness.
Expert Michel Ferry countered this statement saying that “The most effective pesticide against the Palm Weevil produced in America, is banned in Europe and that many other plausible pesticides have been confined to restricted use only.”
Michel Ferry’s present research station is based in Elche where, since 2005, the weevil has been attacking the Palm Grove of the Huerto del Cura, a UNESCO world heritage site.
A final word of warning to all EWN readers was issued by Calpe Councillor Carole Saunders.
“Unfortunately the Palm Weevil spread is also due to indiscriminate importation by certain garden centres of infected Palms into Spain.
These same centres also charge extortionate prices for treating or removing suspected cases of palm weevil infestation.
My advice is to deal with suppliers of long standing reputation and go for quality and guarantees rather than price alone.
Also please note that anyone who thinks they or their neighbour’s Palms are affected has the obligation to report it to the Medio Ambiente (Environment) Department of their Town Hall.”
By Benny Davis