Almost all of the iconic palm trees of the French Riviera are likely to wither and die, the agency charged with their protection has admitted, after it failed to counter the ravages of an invasive beetle, reports The Telegraph.
The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) announced on Wednesday that it is too late to save the trees from the pest that has already turned hundreds into husks.
“It is now impossible to eradicate the red palm weevil on the southern coast [of France],” an agency report concluded. It advised that palms, which can reach 15m-tall, be replaced with an alternative, less vulnerable species.
Residents of Nice and Cannes, whose palm-lined seafronts have long been an emblem of Mediterranean glamour, complained that the government had wasted time in confronting the threat.
“Not only did the authorities not act in time, but they didn’t put enough money or resources into it. A lot of us are angry and disappointed,” Françoise Lagarde, a 63-year-old retired teacher in Cannes, told the Daily Telegraph.
Larvae of the weevil crept into France in a consignment of ornamental palms around 12 years ago.
The insects, which burrow into the heart of the tree, kill any specimen they reach they reach within months.