Dear Sir, Sometime ago the Majorca Daily Bulletin and local Spanish newspapers reported on an infestation of pine bark beetle in the Paguera and Andraitx area. It was also mentioned that measures were being taken to control this outbreak. In fact there is no sign of any active prevention taking place to control this beetle.

If it is a relation of the various pine bark beetles which devastate pine forests from Central America to high in New England in the United States, then Mallorca is in real trouble. This beetle, which is the size of a grain of rice can, given warm weather, moves through forests killing every living pine tree in an extraordinary short time.

The only sure way to stop the beetle is to eradicate not only the brown and dead trees that are already infested but to cut down a corridor of surrounding trees. The little beetle does not have a great range but can easily move 50 to 100 feet from tree top to tree top and, at first, will show no sign of its presence but will in fact be boring away under the bark - only drawing notice to itself when the damage is done and the tree beyond saving.

In both Honduras and Belize hundreds of thousands of acres of pine forests have been lost to the beetle and are now ugly dead pine strands, tinder dry and an invitation to devastating bush fires that risk turning once rich sustainable timber stands into bare hillsides - as fire and then heavy rains wash away all soil.

Mallorca's rich pine forests, although they are not the original oak forests which once made the island famous, are a source of its popular and international repute today. Imagine if you can just how bare and ugly the island would look if its pine forests were gone and bare washed away rock and earth the only background to resorts such as Paguera and Andraitx.

Everyday there are noticeably more dead pines and, almost certainly, for every one which you see, there are probably two or three more already infected. Is anyone out there doing anything about it?

Meb Cutack.
(by e-mail)