Statement from TEMA Foundation on Sycamore Cancer Disease

Statement from TEMA Foundation on Sycamore Cancer Disease
Statement from TEMA Foundation on Sycamore Cancer Disease

TEMA Foundation announced that many of the historical Sycamore trees in Beşiktaş caught cancer with the effect of the fungus called “Ceratocystis platani”, and that there is no treatment for this disease other than cutting. The foundation carried out a scientific study after the cutting of the Sycamore trees on Çırağan Street by the İBB. In the research report published by the TEMA Foundation, it was stated that "there is no recommended remedy for this incurable disease other than cutting and destroying the tree by taking quarantine measures."


The foundation, which carried out a scientific research on the subject, compared the disease to Covid-19. In the report, it was reminded that the disease is transmitted immediately upon contact, the trees infected with the disease do not have a chance to recover, and unfortunately, there is no treatment yet.


It was reminded that sycamore cancer caused by the fungus "Ceratocystis platani" is transmitted by scar tissue caused by birds, insects, wind and human factors, pruning tools and equipment, the contact of roots in the soil or rain water.

It was said about the rapidly transmitted disease, "After infection, it multiplies rapidly and causes death by clogging the transmission tissues of the tree in a short time".

Reminding that the TEMA Foundation is active for the protection of all natural assets, especially soil, and that all its work is based on science and law, the following statements were used:


It has been announced that 112 Sycamore trees under protection in Istanbul's Beşiktaş-Çırağan Street were cut down due to the Sycamore cancer disease caused by the fungus, whose Latin name is Ceratocystis platani. Another Latin name is Ceratocystis fimbriata f. sp. This fungus, which is mentioned in the literature as platani and lives only on sycamore trees (Platanus genus); It is found in the tissues of living trees, the wood of infected trees and wood chips.


Fungal infection can spread through wounds on the branches, trunk or roots of the tree, as well as the absorption of contaminated soil water by the roots, the contact of birds, insects and roots, or rain water. It has the ability to reproduce and multiply rapidly. It is spread by sexually or asexually produced spores. Spores multiply rapidly in the xylem tissue of the wood in 6-20 days, multiply in the vascular bundles that carry the soil water to each point of the tree, and cause the death of the tree over time by preventing the transmission.


It is reported that even a single infection causes cancer and can kill a tree with a diameter of 2-2,5 centimeters in 30 years by progressing 40-2 meters per year. It can live up to 5 years in diseased roots and infected dead plant tissues in the soil and can infect. There is no control method other than phytosanitary measures that prevent the spread of the disease to new areas. It is reported that the infection killed 1949% of the plane trees planted in New Jersey in 88. Its first arrival in Europe was in Italy during the Second World War in wood packaging. seen in France, Italy, Greece, Switzerland and Albania; It is known to have killed tens of thousands of trees in Europe. In Spain, it is stated that the disease is no longer seen as a result of the removal of diseased trees by cutting and quarantine measures taken.


The risk posed by the sycamore canker fungus has been clearly answered by the assessment made at EFSA 2016 (European Food Safety Committee). In the risk analysis, although the fungus has a limited distribution only in France, Italy and Greece, the risk is determined by the European Union's 2000/29/EC numbered "Protective Measures Against the European Union Entry and Spread of Organisms Harmful to Plants or Herbal Products". It has been determined that if measures are not taken according to the "Instructions", it will be 40 times higher. It is stated that if additional measures are taken in line with the instruction numbered 2000/29/EC, it will reduce the risk by 80%. For this reason, it has been recommended to include this fungal disease among the diseases to which the quarantine rule will be applied.


In the light of these data, it is seen that sycamore cancer disease spreads easily in trees, it is transmitted immediately on contact like COVID-19, trees that have been infected with the disease do not have a chance to recover, and unfortunately, there is no treatment yet. It is also not possible to control the fungal mycelia with maintenance works, since the xylem clogs the vascular bundles of the wood that distributes the water coming from the soil to the tree, and this tissue extends from the trunk of the tree to all its branches and leaves. It has the potential to destroy Sycamore trees, such as Ophiostoma ulmi fungus, which brings Elms to the point of extinction all over the world and in our country.


This contagious disease that destroys sycamores is Ceratocystis fimbriata f. sp. It was diagnosed for the first time in our country under the name of platani in 2010, and it has been reported that approximately 400 sycamore trees withered and fell within a year in Beşiktaş, Beyoğlu and Şişli districts of Istanbul due to the disease.

Upon the continuation of the drying up, a research was conducted by sampling 2016 dried and live plane trees in Gezi Park, Yıldız Park, Cumhuriyet Street, Dolmabahçe Street and Çırağan Street in Istanbul in 976. It was determined that 314 of the sampled trees were diseased and 55 were completely dead. In this study, there is information that 97 of the diseased trees are in Taksim Gezi Park, 41 in Yıldız Park, 17 in Cumhuriyet Street, 108 in Dolmabahçe Street and 51 in Çırağan Street.


It is highly likely that the disease came to our country from Italy, where thousands of tall saplings were imported from European countries in the last 20 years. Because the disease is common in Italy. However, genetic analyzes are required to determine this definitively. It is possible that the disease was transmitted by pruning tools and equipment from imported saplings to old Sycamore trees, which have a high historical value and are therefore taken under protection.


For any intervention to trees with high historical value or registered as monumental trees or under protection, permission must be obtained from the Natural Assets Conservation Board. IMM European Side Parks and Gardens Branch Office, with the letter dated 28.04.2020 and numbered 29609873-962-67967; Dr. Faculty Member Zeki Severoğlu added the report prepared as a result of the examination and research carried out by the experts of Süleyman Demirel University Faculty of Forestry, Istanbul Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Forestry, Directorate of Western Mediterranean Agricultural Research Institute and IMM Plant Protection and Agricultural Protection Unit, and added the report of Istanbul Governorship Provincial Directorate of Environment and Urbanization. It is clear what he is applying for. As a matter of fact, this application was evaluated by the Istanbul Regional Commission for Conservation of Natural Assets No. 4 and the letter of the Istanbul Governorship, dated 14.07.2020 and numbered 91023475-250[250]-E.62307, was sent to the IMM European Side Parks and Gardens Branch Directorate to do the needful. In the decision of the Istanbul Regional Commission for Conservation of Natural Assets No. 4, which was sent in the annex of the Governor's letter, it is stated that it is necessary to intervene in 25.06.2020 diseased trees, and that it is appropriate to cut down the dry trees at the entrance of Yıldız Grove. Thus, permission was obtained for the cutting of diseased trees.


The disease cannot be cured. It is not possible to save diseased trees with maintenance work, since the fungus clogs the vascular bundles of the tree and the water taken from the soil interrupts the conduction, and the vascular bundles in which it settles are on the roots, trunk and shoots. There is no other suggested remedy other than cutting and destroying the tree by taking quarantine measures. Considering the report prepared by expert scientists, it is considered that cutting down diseased trees is a necessary process to combat the disease and prevent it from spreading to more trees. What to do next, which species to use, what size of seedlings to use, and monitoring of the disease are important. Considering the function of road trees, traffic safety, the landscape integrity of the city, its contribution to the historical and cultural texture of these issues, it is beneficial for the experts of the subject to evaluate together the measures that should be taken to prevent the disease from being effective again.

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