European Commission – Plant health: EU steps up assistance to help fight dangerous organisms.
In November 2011 the European Union 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 and environment. Most of the funds (€6 million) will be devoted to the control of the outbreaks in Portugal of pinewood nematode (Bursaphelenchus xylophilus), which is a microscopic nematode attacking coniferous trees. European coniferous species are highly susceptible and the pest could devastate the European pine forests. An additional €4 million financing of the actions will assist to contain pinewood nematode within the existing demarcated zone. This, in turn, will help to safeguard the territory of the other Member States and protect Union trade interests in relation to third countries.
€1.1 million will be made available to Spain to control the island apple snail (Pomacea insularum), one of the largest freshwater snails, which attacks rice plots and can also have devastating effects on natural wetlands. The size of the potentially endangered rice area in the EU is 420.000 hectares. Up to now, there is only one known outbreak in the EU, in the Ebro Delta (Catalonia).
Money will also be allocated to control two types of beetles in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands – the Asian longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) and the Chinese longhorn beetle (Anoplophora chinensis). Both insects attack a wide range of harwood plant species and were introduced from Asia. Moreover, funds will be made available to control the red palm weevil (Rynchophorus ferrugineus) in Cyprus and Malta, which attacks palm trees.