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Nov 28, 2000

New measures announced to fight pine beetle

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Significant measures are being taken by government towards the control and eradication of the Southern Pine Bark Beetle, which threatens to decimate the trees of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. The Belize Agricultural Health Authority, BAHA, has announced two directives to combat the problem. One order states that the beetle is a notifiable plant pest, which means that if anyone has suspicions of tree infections, they must report them to BAHA or the Forest Department. The second order declares a quarantine zone within the infected areas. This means that any person, materials and equipment entering or leaving the zone must be authorized first by employees of either BAHA or the Forest Department. The quarantine zone includes all lands within the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, the Chiquibul Forest Reserve and adjacent national and private lands within Cayo District. BAHA’s managing director, Doctor Michael Tewes, says that these new orders will not prevent the flow of tourists and visitors to the reserves, but will allow forest officers to carry out their work of identifying and cutting infected trees on private land. Tewes also urges the public to refrain from removing pine trees from the area, which would normally be in demand this time of year for use as Christmas trees. Movement of the trees could hasten the spread of the beetle to new areas. These new measures have been authorized by Minister of Agriculture Daniel Silva after consultation with Minister of Natural Resources Johnny Briceno.

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