The palm trees on the Mediterranean coast are at risk. They are the symbol of the Mediterranean, but for how much longer?
The palm trees are being decimated by the red weevil, and there is no effective treatment. The weevil eats them from the inside out.
In Palavas, the palm tree is the image of the seaside resort, the town is fond of its 30 year old palm trees. Controversially for some, the mayor has decided to replace the affected palm trees with olive trees, or acacias.
The Mairie will attempt to save as many palms as they can with the help of professionals, but ANSES, the national health safety agency, reported in early January that there is “no way to save the Mediterranean palms from the ravages of the red weevil”.
In Mèze for example, the two emblematic trees on the esplanade will be chopped down soon, also victims of the red weevil.
Thierry Doenlen, who is responsible for the green areas in Mèze, is heartbroken, but there is no other solution, all attempts have failed. “Despite our organic treatments, they are dying. In less than 2 months, they will be completely dead, and so we have to lose them and replace them with different trees,” he said sadly.
“Palm trees are expensive to buy, 1,000 euros per metre, and impossible to guarantee because of the red weevil”, said Didier Rovira, nursery importer from Montagnac.
Some varieties of palms can withstand the red weevil, such as the Washingtonia. They are more susceptible to the butterfly weevil but at least treatments exist.
The Washingtonia palms, at the edge of the l’étang de Thau in Mèze are thus treated regularly, always without chemicals, by approved professionals. It costs 4,000 euros a year, but there is no plan to change this.
The south of France without palm trees, is just not the South of France, say supporters.