The impact of this invasive beetle can be detrimental in both urban and natural environments. Urban environments are more fragmented and disturbed, with higher chances of trees being stressed. Vectors of transmission are numerous, possibly increasing spread, and leading to high tree mortality. This could translate into a loss of heritage or iconic trees, along with the de-greening the overall urban environment. this, in turn, could lead to an increase in urban temperatures as well as the decreased ability for urban vegetation to act as a carbon sink. Indigenous and endemic trees within the urban environment are at risk of becoming added hosts to the PSHB, which could decimate local and provincial populations, ultimately leading to a negative effect on biodiversity and a loss of highly endangered, restricted and receding forests. Since biodiversity is crucial to ecosystem functioning, losing endemic and indigenous tree species would also lead to negative effects on invertebrates, birds, small mammals, and other dependent species,

as well as the ecosystem services associated with their interactions. All those in the industry, from arborists to landscape architects, will have to implement appropriate precautionary measures to ensure they do not assist in the spread of the PSHB through the services they provide or the products that they sell/distribute. Contaminated wood products can harbour invasive individuals for up to 12 months, possibly introducing the PSHB into previously unaffected areas. The lack of knowledge, management practices, training, and appropriate infrastructure further complicates the matter. At this point, we can only speculate what the impacts would be on South African biodiversity, but it is safe to say that, if gone unchecked, this invasion could prove to cost both government and the private sector dearly, not only economically, but ecologically even more so.

It is estimated that it will cost South Africa R275bn and could kill 65-million, or about a quarter of SA’s urban trees.

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