The Slovenia Times

Experts fear bark beetle outbreak in Triglav National Park


This year's prediction of the bark beetle expansion is causing concern among experts, who were hoping it would be already mitigated last year.

The epidemic, caused by the 2014 ice storm, has damaged the Jelovica plateau, with numerous spruce trees being condemned to felling.

Having experienced the Jelovica catastrophe, the experts now fear that the attack will intensify and spread to another forested plateau of Pokljuka, which is part of the Triglav National Park.

Andrej Avsenek, the head of the Slovenian Forest Service's unit in the north-western town Bled, said that another outbreak occurred last June, when temperatures rose to 30 degrees.

Jelovica forests were affected up to the tree line, while Pokljuka experienced only a mild case of the attack, having been exposed to lower temperatures.

The experts have thus introduced a number of measures, taking action against the gradual decimation, including faster ways of detecting the pest and felling the infested trees.

Sanitation cutting was used to prevent the beetle from spreading to other areas, with more than 4,000 orders for felling issued, but most of them were carried out with delay.

Sanitary harvesting represented almost 90% of all harvesting in that area last year, amounting to record 560,800 m3 of felled trees.

Forest owners and contractors have not been able to handle this enormous amount, struggling to keep up with all the timber removal, which is one of the main reasons the epidemic is exacerbating.

Namely, woodpiles in forests are a potential hotspot for the bark beetle epidemic expansion.

Due to the amount of the pest doubling compared to 2018, the experts regard steady precipitation and moderate temperatures as the only current solution.

"If the spring is followed by a hot summer, we fear the worst," said Avsenek, defining the worst-case scenario as beetles attacking the treasured Pokljuka forests, which were last October hit by a severe windthrow, with a number of cut spruce trees still lying around.

The experts advise people to not frequent forests which are undergoing sanitary cutting. Visiting will be safe again when timber is removed and when transport routes are renovated. The ministry of agriculture, forestry and food has promised to financially support the renovations.


More from Nekategorizirano