Olive trees are obviously affected, but a lot of almond trees have also been infected. | Archive

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The regional environment and agriculture ministry has announced that there have been 219 confirmed cases of the xylella fastidiosa bacterium in the Balearics.

The so-called olive ebola is affecting each of the islands except Formentera. Thirty samples have been analysed there and show no sign of infection. In Majorca there are 139 cases, Ibiza has 59 and Minorca 21. This has led to 85 trees so far being removed. In 91 cases, owners have been notified that they must cut the trees down, while the remaining cases are at the pre-notification stage.

In Majorca, 63 olive trees (wild or cultivated) have been affected. The next largest category is almond trees (46). Fourteen polygalas have also been hit by the bacterium, as have smaller numbers of cherry and plum trees, rosemary bushes and oleander. A grapevine in Sant Llorenç is another to have been attacked. In Minorca and Ibiza, the vast majority of cases have been confined to olives. In Ibiza, a mimosa and a lavender have been affected.

Since the presence of xylella was first confirmed in October last year, over 900 samples have been analysed in Majorca. The European Commission is due to send inspectors next month to carry out an audit. The results of this will determine whether or not the current policy of containment is continued rather than a policy of eradication. The latter would mean all trees within 100 metres of an infected tree being cut down. The regional ministry is opposed to this measure because of the impact it would have on agriculture, tourism and the general landscape.