Ban on import of deciduous bonsai into EU!

Walter Pall

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south of Munich, Germany
Since end of November 20o08 the bonsai world in Europe is not what it used to be anymore. Much to the envy of Americans we could import any number of most bonsai species into the European Union. Only a few conifers, like Japanese Black Pines were forbidden. But JBP are (much different then in America)are not at all popular in Europe anyway. Since a couple of weeks the following species are forbidden: ALL MAPLES, ELMS, HORNBEAMS, OAKS AND SOME MORE. This means that practically all popular species are out. It will be possible to import them only under very strict conditions. These are very similar to the ones that are present in America. Practically this means that import will stop altogether for at least two or more years. After that there will be small quantities available again.
The reason is that in at least two regions in Europe we have the infamous Chinese giant beetle which eats our local forests. It is an open secrete that these areas are very close to very large bonsai import companies. In the spring of 2008 a couple hundred thousand Japanese maples were sold over a cheap general store all over Europe. Many hundreds of the maples apparently had a beetle in them. This was too much for the EU officials and they acted much quicker than we are used.
So what does this mean? Well, it may well mean that the Europe bonsai scene has to concentrate much more on what we have here. This is good news for a few. The big importers, however will face very serious times. Some will be closed, I am afraid. Japanese trees will go up in price. Japanese exporters are already suffering from the rise of the yen. They are now more or less out of business. This will seriously impact bonsai business in Japan, China and Korea.
Yes it seems drastic when all of a sudden there is a big change in the way you must now acquire new stock, especially if you aren't one who goes out collecting. But these drastic steps are for the better I assure you. The amount of damage a specific beetle can do to our tree population is horrible to say the least.

When these new rules came to the U.S. a few years ago, many bonsai enthusiasts could hardly believe it, including myself. But as with any big change in life you just learn to adapt and go on. Sure the price of the imports will go up, but after being in confinement for two years, you hopefully shouldn't have to worry about buying a tree for a sizeable amount of money, only to have it die because it was infested with something you weren't even aware of until too late.

I've been to one bonsai importer in Austi Tx. and he had just finished his import shelters and was awaiting his arrival of some import stock so I was still able to go inside. Every little nook and cranny had to be caulked and sealed, and the overhead shade material had to be of a specific material that was USDA approved.After the imports arrived no one would be able to go inside without a certified USDA inspector onsite. Seems drastic but necessary. And the thought of waiting two years for the release of the imports also seems drastic, but as noted above, should give the buyer a healthy tree by that time. The Austin importer would presell some of the trees so at the end of the two years the buyers were eagerly awaiting their purchases. :D
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So this is what the panic is all about, a CLHB....Chinese longhorn beetle


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Attacks healthy trees and sick trees. Larva is huge. A. chinensis (CLHB) looks very much like the Asian long-horned beetle (A. glabripennis). I can't tell the difference.


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So this is what the panic is all about, a CLHB....Chinese longhorn beetle

Yep, I can see where a typical government inspector would have trouble finding that on a shohin pine.

This could be a good thing, people would be forced to concentrate on local species, instead of imitating the Japanese.
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