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Bark beetle: a pest is being fought in forests affected by Vaia

On the Dolomites and on the mountains of Trentino, Veneto and other regions of the Alps, this 2021 will be remembered as "the year of the bark beetle": we are in fact reaching the peak of the spread of this insect that takes sap away from the spruce trees. The alarm was sounded immediately after the Vaia storm that, in 2018, crashed trees to the extent of 70,000 soccer fields. This large-scale pest attack had already been widely announced.

The forests of the Alpine arc affected by storm Vaia, particularly the felled trees whose timber remained on the ground, are facing another “pandemic.” Threatening the forests is a pest that is causing countless concerns: it is the Bostrich tree (Ips typographus), a “xylophagous” (i.e., “wood-eating”) scolytid insect, whose larvae develop and feed under the bark of spruce trees in poor health, permanently jeopardizing the possibility of recovery of the tree itself and the regeneration of the surrounding forest.

The knowledge that extreme climatic events, such as those of Storm Vaia, are repeating themselves and will continue to repeat themselves throughout Europe with increasing frequency, requires us to act now, through careful assessments of the evolution and future of what will one day be new forests that we will have to manage, care for, and protect.

Forests, even those affected by the storm, are not all the same: there are forests that have suffered more damage and others that, instead, have maintained a certain balance. For these forests, the presence of the bark beetle should be understood as a “natural mechanism”; the bark beetle does what it is supposed to do, which is to clean the forests of crashed trees by attacking the wood left on the ground. When this balance is broken, however, there is a phenomenon that starts to become really alarming: in these situations the bark beetle is spreading even on apparently healthy plants. The consequence is that the bark beetle is, slowly, attacking some forests in an exponential way.

In the video above you can see a bark beetle larva found during the planting in Livinallongo del Col di Lana on October 16, 2020. In the coming weeks we will give you further updates on the progress of the bark beetle and the status of the forests where we will be planting. Protecting the existing forests is essential to counteract the effects of climate change: you too can help us to manage responsibly and according to the values of science, ethics, innovation and good governance the existing forests, heritage of biodiversity, heritage of all.