Europe, save the ancient tree of bread!

  • by: Marco Galli
  • target: European Commission Agriculture and Rural Development,  Forestry measures.
Chestnut tree has nurtured for centuries the farmers of the mountains in all temperate zones around the world, from Asia to America, from the north of European Alps to south of the Italian Apennines.
The fruit of this tree gives a sweet and nutritious flour that has integrated poor diet of the mountain people, saving from starvation during the famines and wars, these trees also produce a highly valued honey, timber and an undergrowth favorable for berries and edible mushrooms.

These noble trees, creates large and beautiful forests, also they are the livelihood and habitat of many wild animals (wild boars, foxes, deers, stags, squirrels, etc..).
Today, the chestnut trees are at risk of dying to cause a parasite imported from China.
The chinipide or gall wasp (dryocosmus kuriphilus yasumatsu) is a small
wasp which lays its eggs in the tree of chestnut, creating galls on the branches, making wither away the plant and coming up to kill the tree.
This parasite is destroying the economy of already resource-poor mountain areas, ruining the entire geological structure of these fragile zones, subject to the danger of landslides and fires.
With this petition we are asking the EU to take action, trying to solve the problem gall wasp rapidly, creating a task force to study and finding methods of biological control to combat these wasps and other parasites imported.
To examine measures future to prevent the further introduction of pests such as the gall wasp, the red prick punch (rhynchophorus ferrugineus), the potato beetle (leptinotarsa decemlineata), etc..

Chinipide or gall wasp (dryocosmus kuriphilus yasumatsu)

Chestnut tree galls
To: European Commission Agriculture and Rural Development, Forestry measures.
Hon. Commissioner - Dacian Ciolos'
Hon. Director General - Jose' Manuel Silva Rodriguez
  • To: EU DG Environment: Nature and Biodiversity
    Hon. Ahmet Uludag - Project manager - Invasive alien species -
  • To: Regional vulnerability and adaptation
    Hon. Birgit Georgi - Project manager -
  • To: Programme support NSV - Natural systems and vulnerability
    Hon. Charlotte Islev - Secretary -
  • To: Natural systems and vulnerability
    Hon. Eva Carlson Resource Officer NSV -
    Hon. Felicidade De Deus Manica - Secretary NSV1 - Biodiversity -
  • To: Rappresentanza  in Italia della Commissione europea - Roma Segreteria di Direzione, Assistente coordinamento
    Hon. Roberta Talarico -
We the undersigned:
We ask, to European Commission Agriculture and Rural Development to act quickly and create a European task force to solve the problem of infestation chinipide, or gall wasp (Dryocosmus kuriphilus Yasumatsu), to chestnut trees affected by this parasite and on the whole European territory.
The European chestnut, that only in Italy in more than seven varieties, produces from 50,000 to 70,000 tons. of chestnuts: Now this ancien and valuable tree is at risk of extinction due to this parasite imported from China.
While the Europeans tree nurseries continue to placing infested trees on market and the last solution appears to be the replacement o local chestnut trees with Asian hybrids more resistant to this parasite.
This tragic and costly solution may be possible only for few hectares of chestnut plantation, but impossible for several hundreds square kilometers to native forest of Castanea Sativa: Risking to still import the ill trees and worsening European chestnut trees situation, particularly for those trees still healthy.
A team of researchers at the University of Turin, led by Professor Alberto Alma, who is studying the use of biological methods to combat the gall wasp, in particular the use of "Torymus Sinensis" an insect parasitoid natural predator of the gall wasp: This insect lays his eggs in the galls created from wasp, and its larvae devour eggs and larvae of chinipide.
This method has given excellent results in Japan and Korea: In any case this solution to be truly effective:  Must be continuous in the long time, during the period of greatest proliferation of chinipides and throughout the territory affected by this parasite.
This tree is critical to the economy of European mountain areas producing more than 15% of the world chestnuts, especially in Italy (the first European and third to world producer of chestnuts after China and Korea).
Fruits of chestnut represent an important source of income for all mountain peoples and important feeding source to domestic animals, even a large amount of timber, a very valued honey, a undergrowth fundamental to the life of many wild animals and to particular botanical species.
This tree is essential for the geological stability to extensive mountain areas, otherwise subject to abandonment of its populations, landslides and fires.
The chestnut tree (especially the native "Castanea sativa") represent more to 10% of Italian forests: In Europe its distribution go from Sicily on Etna slopes with the millenary chestnut trees such as chestnut of One Hundred Horses, from Greece where it is considered a very precious tree up to the northern Europe British Islands included, from Portugal to Urals and to other western limits of ancient Roman expansion.
This tree has been for centuries an important source of nutrition, integrating the resources poverty of mountain, nourishing even when could not be possible agriculture, during periods of war and famine: Even during the last world war the chestnut has saved many people from starvation.
This tree as knew very well the Latins who have expanded its cultivation wherever possible and wherever they would extend their conquests, was ours best ally in the worst periods of our history.
This noble tree is an extremely valuable and irreplaceable asset: Maybe in the future, once again, we will be faced with other bad times and once again we will need of our tree best friend to survive, if now we dont do everything possible to save the chestnut, we will repent to this our foresight lack and we will understand at our expense what mean "for all of us" we have lose the great ancient tree of bread.
Marco Galli and others signed!
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