Palma de Majorca.—Municipal sources said yesterday that the havoc being wreaked by the red beetle is increasing significantly.
In 2010, the same sources confirmed, 108 palm trees (101 privately owned and 7 belonging to the municipality) were destroyed whilst so far this year, 173 palms have been lost to the plague (150 privately owned and the remainder in public places).

Practically all areas of the municipality of Palma have been affected. The destruction is apparently at its worst in Cala Major, the Playa de Palma, the Paseo Maritimo and the historic centre of the city.

The City Council has said that the plague remains highly virulent and that a large number of trees in private gardens have been affected.
Municipal sources said that dealing with the plague is costing Palma Council a great deal of money. No departments have enough budgeted cash flow to spend on resolving the threat the spread of the disease poses.

Help from Europe
Because of the lack of means, the City Council, the regional Ministry for Agriculture and the Council of Majorca had joined forces last August and presented plans to halt the plague using European Union funding. If such financing were to be secured - and confirmation has not yet been received - it would enable the City Council to treat those palms which had been affected in people's private gardens as well as those trees on public ground.

The palm trees are a valuable heritage - the City Council has calculated that the 2'540 publicly-owned palms are worth more than 6 million euros.
The cost of uprooting dead trees and replacing them, added to the fact that palms grow slowly, means that this loss of heritage is going to take 50 years to replace, said the Council.

Palma Council said it believed that “only collaboration between local and regional authorities, and between owners of private land on which palm trees are growing will lead to an effective fight against the red beetle plague.” A spokesman said that a watch will have to be kept on palm trees in the municipality all year round.
According to local bylaws, private landowners are obliged to keep their gardens and the trees and vegetation in them free from plague.
The Council said that it is only by monitoring all palm trees, as opposed to just some of them, that the plague can be controlled.
Experts recommend that pruning of palm trees be carried out earlier than would otherwise be the case - preferably in the winter months when the red beetle is at a dormant stage.

If private land owners have palms in areas which are most affected, preventative treatment is advised.


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