Italy Will Fight Olive Killer With Coast-to-Coast Buffer Zone

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Italy’s Apulia, the heel of the country’s boot shape, will set up a coast-to-coast buffer zone to stop the spread of an invasive bacterial disease killing thousands of centuries-old olive trees.

The planned 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) wide buffer zone will run from the Ionian Sea to the Adriatic Sea, Italy’s Agriculture Ministry wrote in an online statement today. The exact location will be determined by Apulia after analysis of the affected area in the next few days, the ministry said.

The bacterium xylella fastidiosa, previously absent from Europe, was first detected last year in Lecce province, where it was linked to die-back of olive trees over 8,000 hectares (19,768 acres). Apulia is Italy’s largest olive-growing region, with production of about 11.9 million metric tons last year, or 41 percent of national output.

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