New threat to Vassiliki Forest

July 2015: In recent weeks, people walking in the forest areas have become concerned by the sight of dead and dying trees, and wondered about the cause. Most recently, serious damage has been reported between Arna and Giatrissa. One concerned local resident contacted the GreekForestry Research Institute. to find out more. He was thanked for his interest, and received information from Dimitris Avtzis.

According to Dimitris Avtzis of the Forest Research Institute in Thessaloniki, the damage is the result of infestation by the larvae of the fir tree pest Epinotia subsequana** that has severely weakened many fir trees in the Vassiliki Forest, as it causes drying of the needles.

A report late last year in agronews, said that the infestation had spread rapidly during the last two years and now symptoms extend across the Vassiliki forest area and beyond, to the monastery of Panagia Giatrissa. Of particular concern is the fact that there are also reports of similar symptoms on the eastern side of Taygetos.

Although the pest is past the damaging larval stage for this year, a serious problem could emerge later in the year, as these forest trees will be unable to defend themselves, and are likely to die, if they are infested by bark and wood boring insects (mainly beetles) or suffer climate stress.

The institute has submitted a research project that aims at controlling the infestation. Unfortunately, they cannot be 100% sure that they will get the funding, but will continue their efforts, hoping that they will find the support to protect this valuable forest.

'Greece, as part of the Southern Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, is projected to be among the most vulnerable countries to climate change and in need of adaptation measures, according to the 2007 EC Green Paper on adaptation to climate change [10]. It is therefore quite urgent to adapt forest management in the changing climate..........' adapttoclimate

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**The bug that is causing the extensive damage to fir trees(Abies cephalonica) has been identified as mikrolepidoptero Epinotia subsequana (Lepidoptera, Tortricidae), which currently shows a big population increase in Greece.

Epinotia subsequana are small ochre coloured butterflies. The females lay, about 20-25 eggs on the face of the pine needles At birth, the caterpillar is yellowish brown, turning to green with increasing size. It reaches about 8mm in its final stages, when it is a deep green color. This insect was detected in Spain for the first time in 1994, and is relatively common in central and northern Europe.

More information and images in redforesta
and a PDF from 2011 Epinotia-subsequana

 

 

Note: E subsequana appears to have no connection with the Thaumetopoea pityocampa (the so called "pine processionary moth") which is frequently observed in Greek pine (Pinus nigra) forests.

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The mission of the NAGREF Forest Research Institute is to contribute through research to the understanding, restoration, and sustainable management of terrestrial ecosystems such as forests and rangelands and to maintain and enhance plant and wildlife resources for the benefit of people and the nature.
If anyone has information, or wishes to know more :-
Ινστιτούτο Δασικών Ερευνών Βασιλικά 57006 - Θεσσαλονίκη
τηλ : +30 2310461172, 2310461173, 2310461411, 2310461637, 2310465719
e-mail : website http://www.fri.gr/


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