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PROTECTING FORESTS FROM DISEASES Print E-mail
The pine forests of Lebanon witnessed an outbreak of a heavy infestation by the Processionary Moth (Thaumetaupia wilkonsonii), which lavishly consumes their needles to the extent of killing the tree over a couple of years. The infestation is a consequence of ecological imbalance caused initially by the elimination of birds and their role due to extensive bird hunting.
Ricardus organized and implemented a campaign to protect the pine forests of Kesrouan Caza from the impact of the rampant processionary moth. The caterpillars of the moth survive in nests, which they hang on pine trees and enlarge them as they grow. The nest is a thick solidified knitting of white silk that survives all adversities and maintain a regulated temperature inside, a crucial condition for the survival of the caterpillars. Only specific types of birds equipped with the appropriate claws and beaks can dig through the silk and tear the nest apart to eat the worms. By piercing the nest, internal conditions will be modified resulting in the death of the remaining worms.

The insightful ecologist designed an artificial replay of the role of birds using shotguns. The strategy was to shoot the nests in order to pierce or blow them away so as to interrupt the life cycle of the moth causing the death of the caterpillars before they reached adulthood. In the fields, members of the FON would move into the forest in rows of shooters. They would shoot all nests in sight and move forward to take a new position, thus screening the forest in their path. Nests within reach would be cut off the tree and gathered to be burnt. To ensure sustainability of impact, the same forests were visited annually. The number of nests was found to decrease exponentially from year to year. The campaign lasted five years until recurrence of nests ceased.

All through, Richard perceived the concept and the action; he organized the campaign from the forest site to be ridden of the caterpillars to the appropriate timing in accordance with the life cycle, the number of shooters, the first aid and the Red Cross facilities; and he implemented on the ground, decided on the path to follow according to the direction of the wind, the entrance into the forest and the exit site, the site for burning and the responsible, monitor and directed the lines of shooters, etc. 
 
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