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Nov 15, 2000

Government attacks Southern Pine Beetle

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Last week we reported on the Southern Pine Beetle ravaging the Mountain Pine Ridge. One of the primary reasons given for the beetle’s attack on over sixty thousand acres of the pine trees, is government’s cutback on a thinning program, in which trees are planted widely apart to prevent fire hazards and from competing for soil nutrients. The thinning helped because the insect can only travel short distances. We spoke to the Minister of Environment about the reason the programme was discontinued.

Johnny Briceno, Ministry of Environment

“If we want to be honest, budgetary constraints is always a problem in all government departments. But that is not necessarily a cause of it. The thinning is done by the people actually working in the area and we have been working with them closely to come up with a thinning programme. They have to get special equipment to be able to cut these small pine trees and also the special equipment to be able to cut them into lumber. We were aware a few months ago of the problem, but one of the problems we had is that we did not have the technical expertise to be able to contain this. We managed to get an expert from Honduras, who came and quickly assessed the situation and has given us a plan of action. The main thing has to be to cut these areas where the bark beetle is wide spread and use it for lumber. We can still use it at this moment and create this wall where the beetle can no longer fly into another tree. So basically is it to contain it and they are going to die off.”

Briceno says that the work done in the Mountain Pine Ridge area is a group effort. The Forest department is identifying the infected pine, while Pine Lumber Company and the Wood Depot are assisting in salvaging the trees.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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