Shot hole borer in the Garden Route National Park absent and unconfirmed in most areas for now

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Shot hole borer in the Garden Route National Park absent and unconfirmed in most areas for now

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Media Release: Shot hole borer in the Garden Route National Park absent and unconfirmed in most areas for now

15 July 2019

Forest ecologists from SANParks’ Garden Route National Park are breathing a sigh of relief that for now, early observations are showing that the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB) seems absent in most parts of the indigenous forest areas. But this does not mean we should not be on the lookout for this pest.

PSHB is a beetle that attacks trees. They don’t kill the tree but they leave a fungus inside the circulatory system which effectively blocks nutrients and water from reaching parts of the tree. This leads to branch dieback and ultimately the tree’s death.

Graham Durrheim, forest ecologist for South African National Parks (SANParks) says sites visited by Professor Francois Roets from Stellenbosch University for a survey of PSHB were both outside and inside the National Park. He also visited the George Botanical Gardens, Knysna Pledge Nature Reserve, Forever Resort and Kat Rivier.

Durrheim says ‘we can confirm PSHB is absent at the Tsitsikamma Big tree, Diepwalle, Stormsriver, Natures Valley and Garden of Eden.’ He adds ‘identifying the Polyphagous shot hole beetle (PSHB) is difficult. It is also quite possible that several of the reports in other areas in the Garden Route could be of indigenous borer beetle species.’

Experts from the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), from the University of Pretoria have also visited the Garden Route and have more information regarding urban areas.

PSHB infestations are most likely to be found at sites that are accessible to the public, particularly where they could have been introduced by infested firewood, in spots such as picnic sites, rest camps and along access roads. Following a recent PSHB provincial task team meeting in Cape Town, it appears that when the final control requirements, which are being finalised, are gazetted, there may be a requirement that protected areas prohibit the entry of firewood to prevent possible infestation. A national reporting hub is in the process of being set up which will be able to receive reports of the beetle going forward. But for now, we are relying on local reporting lines.

Members of the public in the Garden Route are requested to report possible infestations to SANParks, as well as any information on where the PSHB does not appear to occur. ‘This will help us carry out a more comprehensive survey of the current extent should it occur inside the National Park.’

Queries/reports can be emailed to [email protected] or [email protected].

View the shot hole borer poster for more information.

Media enquiries:
Nandi Mgwadlamba
Tel: 078 702 9663
Email: [email protected]
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