The EU has declared war on 21 invasive alien species affecting plants.
They include the Asian long-horned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis).
The European Commission warns that if this pest spreads throughout Europe, it could result in the direct loss of over 5% of the overall growing stock of several EU forestry tree species, such as alder, ash, beech, birch, elm, hornbeam, maple, plane tree, poplar, prunus, rowan tree or willow, valued at €24 billion euros, a loss that could imply an economic impact in the upstream forestry sector of €50 billion.
Now, member states must launch information campaigns to the public, do annual surveys, and prepare contingency plans, simulation exercises, and action plans for the eradication of these pests.
This follows the Commission having adopted under the EU’s new plant health law a delegated act listing 20 priority pests.
Other pests on the list include the bacterium, Xylella fastidiosa, which has been killing centenary olive trees in the South of Italy.
It is thought to be the pest with the highest impacts on agricultural crops, including fruit, with the potential to cause annual production losses of €5.5 billion, affecting 70% of the EU production value of older olive trees (over 30 years old), and 35% of the value of younger trees; 11% of citrus; 13% of almond; and 1-2% of grape production, in a scenario of full spread across the entire EU.
This would put at risk nearly 300,000 jobs across Europe currently involved in that production.
In the last years, outbreaks of several plant pests new to the EU territory have been damaging European crops and trees. Globalisation of travel and trade, as well as climate change, are among the main drivers of emerging plant health risks.
Rising populations of the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) have been causing important damage in fruit tree orchards. It can damage more than 80 products protected by EU quality labels.
The citrus long-horned beetle (Anoplophora chinensis) is ranked first in terms of the potential number of plant species currently grown in the EU streets and parks that it could damage.
Citrus greening bacteria and Citrus Black Spot are also on the priority pest list.