May 19: The conifer trees on the hills of Himachal Pradesh may soon become history. No, they are not being cut by humans. This time, it is the turn of microbes to go on a rampage.

Insects, fungi and various kinds of insects are eating into the deodar, pine and kail trees of Chopal and the stretch that lies between Sundernagar and Jhenjheli, Suket division in Mandi and at Bharari and Mashobra in Shimla. The trees are drying up due to this.

Microbes begin Deforestation
Microbes begin Deforestation [Illustration by Shinod AP]
In fact, hundreds of kail trees in the forests of Bharari and Mashobra have turned into deadwood, reported The Indian Express newspaper.

Environmentalists say that if something is not done fast to stem the growth of the pests, the forests will disappear. But the forest department, which is responsible for the well being of these trees, plans to wait and watch the phenomenon for at least a year before it begins to react. Looks like there will be no trees left by the time the forest department finishes watching the ‘spectacle’.

The trees have been affected by a fungal disease called armillarea mellea that starts drying the trees from its roots, the newspaper report quoted experts at the Himalayan Forest Research Institute in Shimla as saying. The fungal attack is caused by climactic changes like global warming. Though this process can be curbed, nothing is still being done about it.