People, Environment

Demise of 40 Million Boxwood Trees Denied

Demise of 40 Million Boxwood Trees Denied
Demise of 40 Million Boxwood Trees Denied

A claim by a forest expert recently about the death of 40 million boxwood trees in the past decade has been denied by the Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization.

Speaking on a radio program late last week, Bahman Afrasyabi, the organization’s director general, called the claim “baseless and false”.

Last week, Hadi Kiadaliri, the head of Forestry Association of Iran, said 40 million box plants had perished in the past 10 years as a result of diseases.

Originating in the Hyrcanian forests near the southern shores of Caspian Sea, Iran’s boxwoods cover a total of 70,000 hectares throughout the country.

“At present, some 4,000 hectares of northern forests’ box plants are besieged by boxwood moth, which has been detected for the first time in Iran,” ISNA quoted Afrasyabi as saying.

Less than a month after the detection of the pest around Khazar Parsian Azadi Hotel located on the Caspian Sea shoreline in early June, studies were carried out, “but we still don’t know where it has come from”.

Since the moths are nocturnal and breed thrice a year in inaccessible areas, controlling their population becomes very difficult.

Afrasyabi, however, conceded that about 530 hectares of infected areas have been cleared of the pests.

In support of Afrasyabi’s explanations, Reza Arjomandi, a board member of Iranian Society of Environmentalists, said the moths usually come from West Asian countries, such as Turkey and Georgia.

Some years ago, boxwood blight, a widespread fungal disease, affected some 20,000 hectares, “and while the disease inflicted a lot of damage, the number of trees decimated by it was not as high as some claim”, Afrasyabi said.

Boxwood, or box, trees are slow-growing evergreen shrubs and small trees, growing to 2–12 meters tall.

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