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Disease threatens eucalyptus investment

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd August 2005 03:00 AM

RESEARCHERS have not yet found a remedy for the devastating disease that attacked eucalyptus trees in Uganda and other countries about three years ago, according to a new report.

RESEARCHERS have not yet found a remedy for the devastating disease that attacked eucalyptus trees in Uganda and other countries about three years ago, according to a new report.

By Vision Reporter

RESEARCHERS have not yet found a remedy for the devastating disease that attacked eucalyptus trees in Uganda and other countries about three years ago, according to a new report.

The report, entitled, Status of the Blue Gum Chalcid in Uganda, said the pest is causing widespread destruction to eucalyptus, adding that unless controlled, it could lead to loss of billions of shillings invested in growing eucalyptus trees.

However, three lead researchers on the pest say their findings are impressive. “We have some encouraging results, but this is not conclusive,’’ said Peter Kiwuso of the Forestry Resources Research Institute (FORRI), which is a research arm of the National Agricultural Research Organisation.

The team said the pest is known as leptocybe invasa, which is a wasp specie that attacks the eucalyptus and causes stunted growth among young trees.

It ravages eucalyptus grandis more than eucalyptus camaldulensis, according to the report, which said destruction has been observed across the country except in Kabale.

It said the pest is absent in Kabale despite high infestations in the neighbouring Ntungamo district.

The pest attack has been increasing in all the study sites overtime, according to the report. They recommended monitoring the pest in the plots where the native biological enemies have been observed across the country.

Biological enemy is an organism whose feeding or reproductive activities negatively affect the population of another organism.

Another recommendation is that FORRI should exchange information on the current search by entomologists at the research institutions in Kenya, Israel and Australia for control agents. In nurseries insecticides such as dimethoate and salut could be used, but field applications would not be fruitful and would cause environmental backlashes, according to the report.

Researchers say if the eucalyptus is wiped out, increased pressure on natural forests would cause destruction of the rich biological diversity.
They also say if the disease is not controlled, environmental degradation will occur due to exposure of soil to erosive agents.

Disease threatens eucalyptus investment

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