Invasive species threaten the most emblematic green areas of A Coruña

Invasive species threaten the most emblematic green areas of A Coruña
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Lara Fernández / Abel Peña

Nature is constantly threatened. In summer, fires take all the public’s attention, but there is another type of danger, in this case in the urban area, which acts slowly and goes unnoticed until it is too late. Some of the green areas of A Coruña, despite the arrival of spring, do not shine in all their splendor. The culprits are none other than graphiosis and the red weevil. The City Council combats these pests, trying to stop their advance in the palm groves and elms in areas such as the Méndez Núñez gardens and the San Carlos garden, but the latter has been closed to the public for eleven months and there is no scheduled opening date.

The local government announced this Monday the activation of a new action protocol to limit the impact of the red weevil on palm trees, an initiative that seeks to safeguard existing specimens against this invasive species native to Asia. This preventive treatment, which began to be applied on Monday itself, landed yesterday in La Rosaleda, where access to the public was cut off. A total of 85 palm trees will be ‘vaccinated’, distributed among the Méndez Núñez gardens (70), the surroundings of Santa Lucía and Cabana streets (8), the San Amaro cemetery (4), As Atochas (2) and also in the specimen located at the access to the Estacada alley, which is affected by this insect.

The work plan established by the municipal government establishes that these 85 palm trees will receive a phytosanitary treatment with acetamiprid, with two lines of action: the first, the injection of the liquid into the trunk of the palm trees, approximately two meters below the ball. (the bulge from which the palms emerge); the second, within fifteen days, a non-pressurized shower of acetamiprid on the eye of the specimens, a key measure for its integrity, since it is the heart of the plant.

This procedure will be repeated again at the beginning of the summer season, in the month of June, with the aim of protecting the palm trees throughout the summer, since it is the period in which the activity of the red weevil increases the most. The City Council recalls that it has been treating the city’s palm trees since 2017, when the weevil attacked for the first time. The acetamiprid treatment, however, is now applied for the first time in A Coruña, in order to have a more effective phytosanitary product than those applied to date. Not only does it have a preventive nature, but it also serves to eliminate insects when they are already present on palm trees.

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Talas

Between October and November of last year, more than twenty palm trees disappeared from the city’s arboreal heritage and, according to experts consulted, their proliferation is unstoppable. Municipal sources assure that, if seven years ago there were 900 public copies, now there are 10% fewer. That is, 90% of the palm trees resist. The data provided excludes those found in private properties and gardens. “We also call on all those individuals who have infected palm trees to act as quickly as possible with felling to avoid the transmission of the pest to other specimens,” adds the municipal government.

Precisely at the end of 2023, the management of the Compañía de María School requested permission to begin pruning and felling the dying palm trees that adorned the premises, given the danger that their leaves falling to the ground posed to the school community. This is one example of many others, as is the case of the Oncology hospital, which also eliminated several specimens from its surroundings, to prevent the spread of the Asian beetle, and for safety reasons. But if the red weevil is devouring the palm groves, the graphiosis (a fungus) does the same with the olmeda trees. Coruña already has a historic one, in San Carlos.

Closed for quarantine

For almost a year now, this historic garden, a must-see for British tourists as it houses the tomb of General Sir John Moore, has been closed. The City Council has not clarified its current status, but in this time it has been necessary to cut down several elm trees. The City Council announced its intention to replace the dead specimens with others resistant to the plague. However, no date has been announced for the garden’s reopening.

Part of the problem is that the trees are interconnected by roots, so the disease may be spreading. At least eleven of the 19 trees have already fallen ill and the prognoses are not as rosy as the rest. Although the possibility of digging trenches to separate the trees was raised, there is no record of this work. What is known is that spring has not arrived in San Carlos.

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