Giant pine scale outbreak causes significant tree loss in Highbury

Published on 13 September 2023

To combat an outbreak of the destructive pest, giant pine scale, more than 180 trees have been felled at Highbury’s Elliston Reserve. Giant pine scale (Marchalina hellenica) is an insect that sucks the sap of pine trees and poses a threat to Australia’s softwood plantation industry.

Giant pine scale was found at Elliston Reserve in July, after it was also detected at Hope Valley Reservoir. The reserve is expected to be closed until early 2024, with its re-opening to be guided by The Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA).

General Manager, City Operations Felicity Birch said: “The impact of the giant pine scale insect on our community is significant, and we support PIRSA in the steps undertaken to control this substantial outbreak. We understand that it’s confronting for locals to see these established trees be removed so quickly, but it was a necessary measure to protect further losses elsewhere”.

Elliston Reserve is owned by the State Government and maintained by the City of Tea Tree Gully, and includes a popular BMX track. The track will be off limits until the site is deemed safe to be re-opened.

A revegetation plan for Elliston Reserve will be developed for the Council’s future consideration, with a proposal to seek external grant funding support.

“Like our community, we’re saddened by the loss of the contaminated pine trees at Elliston Reserve and other affected sites. We’re hopeful that the site can be redeveloped through varied funding sources in the near future, so the community can continue to enjoy this much-loved reserve” said the local ward councillor, Cr Blake Lawrenson.

The felled trees from the reserve will soon be transported across the road to Hope Valley Reservoir for containment.

Giant pine scale was previously detected in Dernancourt in 2014. It can be spotted by looking for groupings of white cotton-like secretions on the trunks and branches of pine trees. The insect only targets trees from the pine family, such as pines, firs and spruces.

Human contact is often the cause of the pest spreading, particularly on shoes, clothing and equipment. If you see or suspect giant pine scale, please report it to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.   

More information about giant pine scale

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