Why Johannesburg’s trees are dying
The polyphagous shot hole borer beetle is just 2mm, but it is having a devastating effect on Joburg’s man-made forest
Joburg has long prided itself on being the largest man-made forest in the world. And while that’s not entirely accurate — an Africa Check report disproved the claim in 2013 — the city nonetheless boasts an impressive canopy. In public areas alone, the city has 2-million trees. Factor in the trees on private property, and the tally rises to 5-million.
But a tiny 2mm beetle is threatening that. About 20,000 of the city’s trees have already died as a result of the polyphagous shot hole borer beetle (Euwallacea whitfordiodendrus), says Hilton Fryer, an expert from data science consultancy Heuristic Guru, which has been tracking the issue. And, in the longer term, he warns that the city could lose 450,000 trees.