Hundreds of mulberry trees in Athens have been decimated by the wood borer insect Xylotrechus chinensis and many more have been infected, municipal plant specialists said on Tuesday.
According to the experts, out of 25,000 mulberries growing within the administrative boundaries of the municipality, about 1,300 trees have been affected, of which 300-350 have already died or have suffered so much damage that they need to be cut down.
Athens Deputy Mayor for Greenery and Lighting, Sakis Kollatos, spoke of "an environmental disaster."
To address the problem, the municipality of Athens contacted the Agricultural University of Athens, the Benaki Phytopathological Institute and the Institute of Mediterranean Forest Ecosystems, all of which suggested a series of measures.
These include plans to urgently assign specialized companies to cut down highly infected trees, prune the remaining ones and destroy this biomass containing insect populations.
At the same time, authorities will replace the cut trees with new ones, choosing the appropriate type with the assistance of the same scientific bodies.
Mulberry trees line some of the capital's major streets, such as Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, and were planted for their resilience and environmental benefits.