Rhino beetle infestation a growing threat to Pacific islands' economies

The growing threat of coconut rhinoceros beetle infestation in the Pacific islands is estimated to cost the region $169 million (NZ$237 million) a year by 2040 if the pest invasion is not curbed, according to the Pacific Community or SPC.

The rhino beetle, or CRB, has been wreaking havoc in many Pacific Island nations, threatening to wipe out the coconut industry and causing losses to economies that rely on it and its oil, in addition to other palm species, for revenue, SPC stated in an article posted on its website.

As the world observes the International Day of Forests today with the theme, "Forest Restoration: A path to recovery & wellbeing’," SPC said it is vital to raise awareness on the region's coconut palm industry and the threat to it from invasive species.

"Our coconut palms help drive many Pacific economies, with Pacific Island countries supplying 50 percent of the world’s copra trade. Papua New Guinea is the largest exporter of copra in the world," SPC said.

The coconut tree is known in the region as the "tree of life," whose every part is useful from its tallest frond down to its rooted trunk. Islanders enjoy the sweet juice and fresh meat of its fru