Carvings Exposes Trees To Infections

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Carving names and other inscriptions into the bark of trees, depending on the depth of the lacerations, could expose the plant to various pathological (uncontrolled) infections.

Dendrologist at the National Botanical Gardens, Nigel Jones, urged members of the public to desist from making carvings in trees, as the outer layers of the plant prevent the entry of harmful pathogenic organisms.??

During an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, he warned that making carvings into trees usually damaged the plant???s cortex and sapwood, both of which were actively involved in essential physiological processes.

???When damaged, the plant???s outer sapwood would naturally compartmentalise, a mechanism adopted by the plant to inhibit the spread of pathogens,??? Mr. Jones explained.??

He added that the depth of the lacerations would not only determine the degree of compartmentalisation within the outer sapwood, but also the amount of extractives (resistance substances) produced in response to the injuries.

Carving is often associated with necrosis (decay) in xylem tissue, as it opens an entry point for parasitic fungi, which are usually very resistant to the plant???s defence system. Likening the bark of a tree to the skin of human beings, the tree expert noted: ???If you remove your skin you expose your body to infectious diseases, the same happens to trees when the bark is removed.???

Mr. Jones further stated that there were a number of very old trees in Barbados and such trees would have already reached the ???equilibrium stage???, hence fungal attacks were often fatal, as the plant???s defence was not potent enough to resist the attack.

In addition to pathogens, the Dendrologist pointed out that damaged trees were also affected by several other environmental elements, such as salted winds, extreme temperatures, excess moisture, dust particles and drifting chemicals.

Mr. Jones is of the opinion that to properly manage trees in Barbados it would require changes in existing legislation, and trained personnel in the areas of silviculture and dendrology.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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