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Bugs scoring big against pine trees

Date Posted: 2005-01-27

Attacking insects are killing Okinawa’s pine trees.

The Pine Sawyer Beetle is to blame.

The Okinawa Prefecture’s Liaison Council formed to monitor the nasty bug reports infestation is up 57% over the previous year, with nearly 88,000 trees damaged. Beetle damage is on the rise in northern Okinawa, in the Nago, Ogimi Village, Kin Town and Onna Village areas. Officials report a slight decrease in Kunigami Village and areas in the south and central regions.

Control efforts are being hampered in private forest areas, officials say, while reductions are taking hold in government managed forests. Agriculture and Fishery Department Director Takezo Moromi says that overall, “damages are on the increase.”

Extermination is difficult as the beetles work from the mountainous regions down to the flatlands. In some areas, half the mountainsides are blanketed by diseased trees.

Another problem for officials is gaining cooperation from private landowners and administrators. “We need everyone’s help,” Moromi says, from the Prefecture, municipalities, the American military, everyone together. Otherwise, the pine beetle tree damages will never go away.”

The budget for Pine Sawyer Beetle control last year was ¥830,000,000. Budget constraints have seen that figure slashed to ¥550,000,000 this year. Another meeting is scheduled for early February to establish a new course of control action.

Dead and diseased trees are to be burned, officials say. They’ve already given authorization to some communities to begin the process. Nago, Kin Town and Onna Village are the worst hit.

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