Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ) investigated infections noted in street trees as well as in trees planted in parks and open spaces.
A task team engaged with a number of tree and insect specialists, including academics, entomologists and arbor culturists to consult on the alien invasive beetle known as the polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) named as such due to the effect it creates, which is similar to that of a shotgun having been fired into a tree.
City of Johannesburg (CoJ) stated the PSHB infestation is a national problem and the current action plan is focused on gathering and analysing as much information as possible, as well as working in collaboration with the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).
MMC for community development Clr Nonhlanhla Sifumba said the national department is taking the lead in dealing with this issue with assistance from other organisations and private institutions.
“This includes continuously identifying trees infected and researching a sustainable solution to dealing with this problem. In this regard, JCPZ joined the Cities4Forests Group, the World Resource Institute Forum dealing with urban forestry and related matters. A workshop is being planned with several international and UN-based organisations in a quest to develop a specific strategy for the city,” said Sifumba.
Key implementable action plans for which resources were acquired include:
• Removal of dead trees.
• Ensuring data on what killed the trees is accurate to ensure cases of PSHB are accurately recorded.
• Proper disposal of these trees so no further contamination happens.
• Engagement with Pikitup on the volume of green waste that will be generated.
• Education and engagement with communities in September and October in areas where trees are being planted for Arbor Month.
• Risk profile compilation by the stakeholder unit of JCPZ.
• Development of capacity within the city to manage the phenomenon through academic research and skills insourcing.
Scientifically based data is provided by agencies such as the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), various universities and the JCPZ team on the ground in mapping and plotting the areas where such infections are reported in public open spaces and street trees.
JCPZ has been approached by various stakeholders with possible chemical solutions.
JCPZ can only engage in discussing these solutions if the products are legally registered for this purpose.
DAFF published communication to inform stakeholders about the infestation.
It stated chemical control (injecting infested trees with fungicides and insecticides) may prove to be effective to control this tiny beetle and its fungus but may be expensive.
“They also requested plant materials showing similar symptoms or infested trees should be reported to the relevant authorities or alternatively cut down and chipped,” said Sifumba.
JCPZ is engaging with Pikitup to establish designated sites.
“The selection is dependent on feasibility studies and available budget.”
CoJ requested the reporting of suspected infested trees in Johannesburg to the Whatsapp number 064 756 2736.