A campaign is underway to save the remnants of the decimated woods" />

Abkhazia: boxwoods in danger

A campaign is underway to save the remnants of the decimated woods

A nursery was opened in Abkhazia in order to save Colchian boxwood. Boxes have been growing here for thousands years, surviving even the Ice Age, but is now disappearing at a staggering rate.

The boxwoods have almost been completely decimated by butterfly pyralids, which were carried here from Italy on the roots of plants which were meant for decorating the Olympic village in 2012.

According to Moscow and local press reports, the situation in Sochi is even worse. By March 2016, the boxwoods in the Khosta area near Sochi have been completely wiped out and cannot be recovered.

T he situation in Abkhazia is bad, but hope still remains. Out of the 15 thousands hectares of boxwoods in the area, four have remained untouched by the pest. The special nursery was established in order to save the remaining trees and to start reintroducing boxwoods to the area.

Activists from the Apsabara environmental group are involved in the project, supported by the Abkhazian Academy of Sciences Environment Institute and co-financed by the European Union and UN Development Programme. The nursery was built near the village of Mgudzyrkhua in the Gudauta district.

Planting stock (cuttings) was taken from the boxwoods in the Bzyb Gorge. Murman Solomko, a consultant, says propagation by using cuttings is an effective method providing for an almost 100 percent success rate. Small cuttings, 10-15 centimeters long, are placed into boxes with preprepared soil.

In 2-3 weeks they take root and can be moved to the nursery, and then after two years into the natural surroundings. The plan is to plant up to 10 000 cuttings by the end of September with 2 000 already having been planted. Volunteers and people ‘who care’ help the project, Roman Leyba, the project manager told Abkhazia-Inform.

For thousands of years, the warm and watery boxwoods have been useful in regulating the water balance and preventing landslides in the gorges. In the XIX century the boxwoods were cut down for their valuable wood. In the XX century boxes were registered as an endangered species, allowing the woods to recover after the 2012 crisis.

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