Three weeks ago, the European Commission published the list of the 20 priority pests for the EU, which includes plant enemies such as the fearsome yellow dragon (caused by a bacterium of Asian origin that has devastated 72% of the production of juicing oranges in the US in the last decade) and the Asian long-horned beetle, which could destroy 5% of the trees of species like ashes, beeches and birches, according to the Commission. A single kind of bacteria, the Xylella fastidiosa, is putting about 300,000 jobs at risk, according to the report.
A team of the Joint Research Center, the internal scientific service of the Commission, based in Seville, has developed a new methodology to estimate the possible damage caused by these pests, taking less tangible elements into account for the first time, like landscape, cultural heritage and designations of origin.
In this sense, scientists from the European Commission have identified 10 Spanish places declared World Heritage by UNESCO and with plants threatened by at least one of the 20 priority pests. The Xylella fastidiosa bacterium and the yellow dragon, for which there are no treatments, are the most concerning.
“The possible economic, environmental and social impact of these pests on EU territory could be severe,” said the Commission, also warning that member states must close the European borders to these 20 pests and be prepared for eradication plans and the launch of information campaigns.
The list of priority pests includes the Aromia beetle, a pest harmful to fruit trees in China, detected in Spain in July 2018; the oriental fruit fly, native to tropical Asia and harmful to citrus fruits, first observed in Europe at the end of 2018; or the pine wood nematode, which has caused recent outbreaks in As Neves, a town of Pontevedra, and Lagunilla, in Salamanca.