The removal of polyphagous shot hole borer beetle (PSHB)-infested trees from the City got underway on Wednesday, with the City of Cape Town calling for public assistance in identifying areas and trees that have been affected.
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The process will require infested trees to be chipped as the only scientifically proven method to prevent the spread of the pest to other areas, and it began with the removal of infested Boxelders along the Liesbeek River corridor, near the N2 highway and Liesbeek Park Way.
“Access to these areas will be restricted while the work is under way with chainsaws and wood-chipping machines,” said the City.
“Once chipped, the beetle infested biomass will be transported to an appropriate site for incineration.”
According to Deputy Mayor Eddie Andrews, the City will prioritise the removal of Boxelders from city-owned land along major transport routes, as these pose the biggest threat of spreading the PSHB to other parts of Cape Town.
“It is a sad turn of events for all of us,” he said. “As much as we value our trees – many of them are decades older than us – we do not have any alternative but to chip the infested trees. We are doing so in an effort to stop the beetle in its tracks and to save other trees from a similar fate.”
As of the start of the week, the City recorded 191 infested trees, 104 on city-owned land and 87 on private properties in the Southern Suburbs.
Most infested and affected trees in the Southern Suburbs are boxelder, London plane, English oak and grey poplar. Areas affected are Newlands, Kenilworth, Mowbray, Rondebosch, Observatory and Wynberg.
Andrews will participate in a tree-planting initiative to kick-start a city-wide tree replacement programme on Friday.
The initiative will be voluntary for residents who want to participate while the City is working on finalising its formal tree replacement programme. The City will issue a list of recommended trees and suitable areas to the public on the day. These are indigenous trees that are not known to be hosts for the PSHB.
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Picture: City of Cape Town