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Shot Hole Borer in the Garden Route National Park?

Shot hole borer in Garden Route National Park?

Forest ecologists from SANParks’ Garden Route National Park are breathing a sigh of relief that Polyphageous Shot Hole Borer is absent in most parts of the indigenous forest areas or unconfirmed.

What is the Polyphageous Shot Hole Borer

The Polyphageous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB) is a beetle that attacks trees.  It feeds on the fungus creating deep channels inside the tree.  The fungus spreads outwards from the tunnels into the tree, blocking the trees’ vascular system, its leaves turn brown and it eventually dies.

Graham Durrheim, forest ecologist for South African National Parks (SANParks) says sites visited by Professor Francois Roets from Stellenbosch University for a survey of PSHB were both outside and inside the National Park.  He visited the George Botanical Gardens, Knysna Pledge Nature Reserve, Forever Resort and Kat Rivier.

Not in Tsitsikamma, Diepwalle, Garden of Eden and other sites

Durreheim says ‘we can confirm PSHB is absent in the Tsitsikamma Big tree, Diepwalle, Stormsriver, Natures Valley and Garden of Eden.’ He adds ‘identifying the Polyphagous shot hole beetle (PSHB) is difficult. It is also quite possible that several of the reports in other areas in the Garden Route could be of indigenous borer beetle species.’

How can you help?

PSHB infestations are most likely to be found at sites that are accessible to the public, particularly where they could be introduced to infested firewood, in spots such as picnic site, rest camps and along access roads. 

Members of the public in the Garden Route are requested to report possible infestations to SANParks, as well as any information on where the PSHB does not appear to occur. ‘This will help us carry out a more comprehensive survey of the current extent should it occur inside the National Park.’

The Western Cape Provincial task team was advised by a global change scientist to request visitors to protected areas not to bring their own firewood or charcoal. A national task team working on the matter is expected to operate soon from Cape Town.

Queries can be emailed to: graham.durrheim@sanparks.org  or jessica.hayes@sanparks.org

Media can contact: Nandi Mgwadlamba, 078 702 9663, nandi.mgwadlamba@sanparks.org

Originally issued by SANParks, July 2019.