Emergency declared by Gorgojo Plague
—Feb 26th 2016
The plague of Gorgojo (weevil) has already destroyed 800 hectares of pine in Honduras. The plague is located eight miles away from the Guatemalan border. The President of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, is about to declare a state of emergency to protect a very important mountain range in Guatemala of being infected by Gorgojo (weevils).
Francisco Montano received an emergency call in October. Government officials of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, required his presence in their contry. About 70 percent of the pine forests of his country had been destroyed by weevils dendroctronus frontalis and needed advice.
The owner of Corral Viejo, the largest charcoal company in Central America, traveled by helicopter and saw from the air how Honduran forests were reddish in 3 different steps of the plague process. He landed in Tegucigalpa and met with the ministers of Hernandez. They explained to him that for two years, the plague had been detected and in this time lapse it destroyed 547,000 hectares.
“They estimated that by the end of 2015, the affected area would reach 800 thousand hectares, as the insects move is infecting a thousand hectares per day.”
Montano warned the Honduras authorities that in the present, the only action plan to prevent the plague spread to Guatemala is to cut the trees and reforest. The country had run out of forests and that, surely, would reduce the river flows and make the areas more vulnerable to forest fires.
The situation was critical. According to the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), the presence of 25,000 insects in one hectare is considered a pest. There are an estimated 3 million per hectare in Honduran forests. “The Gorgojo (weevil) eats the pine resin and drys it. (The authorities of Honduras) thought they could make charcoal with the infected wood. But Mr. Montano explained that this species are not used for charcoal production. Honduras was left without forests and with fire risks.
In December, when the plague was 25 miles from the border with Guatemala, Montano met again with the Honduran authorities and proposed a plan to minimize the effects of this forestry crisis. “The same company that in the late 90s, controlled the southern pine Gorgojo (weevil) in Poptun (Petén) cutting in Honduras stripes around the red areas to prevent the pest from spreading to Guatemala. Pine wood with less than two months of infestation would be moved to quarantine facilities at the border in order to be fumigated, and sold to the exterior”, he says.
The Government of Hernandez could not react to the situation. So, on January 15, Montano met with the Guatemalan President, Jimmy Morales, to alert him about the imminent entry of the Gorgojo (weevil) to Izabal.
The president ordered the creation of an interagency committee headed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. “He attempted to discuss a solution but Honduras did not respond. The plague moved and now is 8 miles from the border. If we do nothing, it will end the Sierra de las Minas. Last Wednesday, the president said he will propose declaring emergency and cut a strip of 300 meters wide so necessary long in Guatemalan lands”, says Montano Cruz.
Morales could face obstacles. The first is cutting the Trifinio region and that requires the consent of El Salvador and Honduras. The second is to convince the owners of the surrounding forests to the border that cut down their forests. “80 percent of the territory that the protective barrier is supposed to cover are private,” says the consultant. Contrapoder posted on February 12, an article on the pine weevil plague that destroyed most startling Honduran forests and Guatemalans.
Source: Contra Poder© Magazine, Guatemala 2016.
Original online article:
“Declararán Emergencia por el Gorgojo del Pino”: http://contrapoder.com.gt/2016/02/20/declararan-emergencia-por-el-gorgojo-del-pino