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Plant health pests and EU funding programmes to deal with them - guide

16 November 2011
by eub2 -- last modified 16 November 2011

The European Union today earmarked 19 million euros to co-finance programmes in seven Member States aiming to combat organisms harmful to plants and to prevent them from spreading further in the Union and thus from having sever consequences on the internal market. During a meeting of the Standing Committee on Plant Health (SCPH), the Member States endorsed two Commission proposals providing the co-financing (EUR 15 and EUR 4 million respectively) of actions already undertaken in the past or planned to be executed next year.


Which pests endangering plants will EU co-financing efforts focus on?

There is a total of seven pests that would be targeted by EU funding. These are: Pinewood nematode (€15 million), Island Apple Snail (€1.1 million), Western Corn rootworm (€0.06 million), Red Palm Weevil (€0,7 million), Citrus long-horn beetle (€1,7 million), Asian long- horn beetle (€0,2 million) and Bacterial canker of kiwifruit (€0,06 million).

Pinewood Nematode

What is Pinewood nematode?

Pinewood nematode (PWN) is a microscopic worm harmful to coniferous trees. European coniferous species are highly susceptible to the worm, which is propagated by an insect vector, called Monochamus.

What does it do to coniferous trees?

It can eventually kill them off. The European pine species are highly susceptible to the pest. Its entry and spread in Europe could have devastating effects for European pine forests by the progressive dying of the affected trees. The effects of the nematode's action have been particularly felt by Portugal. The nematode is spread from tree to tree through bark beetles of the genus Monochamus.

Where can it be found in the EU?

The nematode was first detected in Portugal in 1999. Eradication measures contained it to the Setubal area (south of Lisbon) for several years. However, since April 2008, new outbreaks were notified in the north of Portugal (Coimbra) and Portugal declared the entire territory of continental Portugal to be PWN infested. In 2009, the island of Madeira was declared infested. Outside Portugal, only two limited outbreaks were recorded in two regions of Spain, Extramadura and Galicia. In both areas the pest has been eradicated.

Island Apple Snail

What is the Island Apple Snail?

Apple snails are important consumers of plants in shallow aquatic systems. They have fast growth rates and a high reproductive potential. These two elements contribute significantly to the snail's invasion rate.

What damage does it cause?

The snail can have significant adverse effects on wetland ecosystems. This means that in such areas, where agricultural crops such as rice or taro can be present, the snail can cause significant damage to both the environment and the agricultural production.

Where can it be found in the EU?

In the EU, the apple snail was first detected in 2009 on the left bank of the Ebro Delta, in Spain and notified in 2010 to the Commission as a harmful organism. This is the first and only known presence of the snail in Europe.

Red Palm Weevil

What is the Red Palm Weevil?

The Red Palm Weevil (RPW) is a pest of palm trees. It has become one of the biggest threats to palm trees in the world.

What does it do to palm trees?

The main susceptible palm species in the EU are the Phoenix dactylifera (date palm) and the Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island Palm). The RPW's larvae make tunnels and large cavities in their host plants and gradually their presence in the tree leads to the death of the host.

Where can it be found in the EU?

The insect was first detected in the EU in 1996, in Spain. It is currently present in all Mediterranean Member States and Portugal.

Western Corn Rootworm

What is the Western Corn Rootworm?

The Western Corn Rootworm is a beetle and is one of the most important natural enemies of maize.

What damage does it cause?

Both adults (beetles) and larvae attack maize, but the main economic losses are caused by the root damage inflicted by feeding larvae. The Western Corn Rootworm poses a serious threat to agriculture in the EU because maize is one of the main EU crops in terms of cultivation area.

Where can it be found in the EU?

The Western Corn Rootworm is present in 12 Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia). The total area it has invaded represents over half of the Union's maize cultivation area.

Bacterial canker of Kiwifruit

What is the bacterial canker of kiwifruit?

Bacterial canker of kiwifruit (PSA) is a bacterial disease of kiwi plants.

What damage does it cause?

Plants attacked by the PSA are noticed by the disease's effect on their buds, flowers and twigs. The PSA, among other things, causes the brown discoloration of buds, flower necrosis and blight, and twig wilting and die-back. This plant disease can have serious economic and social consequences.

Where can it be found in the EU?

In the EU, the PSA was first reported in Italy in 1992. Since 2010, a more aggressive strain causes important losses. This strain has now also been reported by France, Portugal and Spain. This aggressive strain is new in Europe and addressed at EU level for the first time.

Citrus long-horn beetle

What is the Citrus long-horn beetle?

This beetle is not native to Europe and it can attack a wide range of deciduous plants, such as maple, citrus and apple trees and birches, beeches, and willows.

What damage does it cause?

In Europe the pest poses significant economic and ecological threats to horticulture, forestry, and woodland trees. The most likely means of movement of the insect is as eggs, larvae, or pupae in woody plant material.

Where is the pest present in the EU?

In the past, Member States had reported, on various occasions, the presence of the beetle in plants imported from China. The insect then appeared to be difficult to eradicate in some locations in the Union, mainly in Italy.

Asian long-horn beetle

What is Asian long-horn beetle?

Asian long-horn beetle (ALB) is a large wood-boring beetle, native to countries in Asia and threatens particularly broadleaf trees.

What damage does it cause?

In its native range, the species is known to cause substantial damage. Approximately 40% of poplar plantations have been damaged by the pest in its native China. The insect spreads primarily through the transport of infested material particularly within the nursery trade.

Where can it be found in the EU?

The Member States, where isolated outbreaks of ALB have been detected in the past (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands), are putting control measures in place in order to eradicate this threat.

Member State reports on national surveys for the presence of this organism in 2010 indicate that the pest was not detected in Austria, that three outbreaks occurred in Italy in the region of Lombardia and the region of Veneto, and that one outbreak affected the Netherlands, were successfully dealt with. In several other Member States the pest was occasionally detected in, or linked to, imported plant material.

Harmful organisms - further information

Source: European Commission

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