Balearic Islands must remove only Xylella infected trees

The European Union has informed the Spanish Ministry of Environment and Agriculture that it authorises the Balearic Islands to remove only the trees infected with the deadly bacterium of the Xylella fastidiosa. This authorization will make it possible to avoid the drastic measure that was implemented for olive trees in the province of Pluguia, in the south of Italy, which resulted in the massive logging of any trees within a radius of 100 metres around any infected specimen. In the case of Mallorca, this would entail the destruction of some 800 hectares with numerous almond trees, olive trees, vineyards or olive trees, among other species.

The authorization from Brussels, which will take effect during the meeting of the Plant Protection Commission on 22 September, will allow the Council of Environment and Agriculture of the Balearic Government to apply the containment protocol. This is a less strict measure that only requires the felling of trees infected by Xylella fastidiosa and prospecting in the area.

So far, 431 cases of trees affected by the Xylella have been detected in the islands, 226 of which are in Mallorca. If it had been compulsory to remove everything within a radius of 100 metres of any of these trees, the effects would have been devastating for the island's landscape. It is estimated that some 800 hectares would be devastated and three to five million trees would have to be burnt. Of particular concern was the presence of the bacterium in the vineyards, which could entail major losses to the flourishing Majorcan wine sector.

The Councillor for the Environment, VicenÁ Vidal, welcomed the authorization from Brussels to implement the containment protocol. "This is great news for the islands and it has been possible thanks to the work that has been done, adopting decisive measures from the outset." Vidal highly appreciated the visit of the European Union technicians to the laboratory and the trips to Brussels to convince the EU leaders that the Balearic Islands were ready to apply the containment protocol and thus prevent the destruction of millions of trees. Brussels has given the authorization before the vote on the plant health commission due to Spain's alliance with France to protect the Balearic Islands and Corsica, which is also affected.


Publication date: 9/14/2017

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