City removes banyan trees along Kapiolani Park

More banyan trees have fallen victim to a dangerous pest.

The city announced it is removing five mature Benjamin banyan trees along Monsarrat Ave. fronting the Kapiolani Regional Park Bandstand parking lot near Kalakaua Ave.

Municipal arborists from the city’s Division of Urban Forestry determined that these trees warrant removal due to a severe infestation of Lobate Lac Scale. Attempts to remediate the effects of this insect with pesticide and pruning have failed.

As a result, officials said the trees need to be removed to prevent large branch or full-tree failure, which is dangerous in such a heavily trafficked area.

Work is scheduled to take place Thursday and Friday. No parking will be allowed in the immediate area and intermittent lane closures will be necessary.

Drivers are encouraged to use alternate routes.

Two adjacent Benjamin Banyans are in decline and will likely require removal soon, officials said.

Experts say they don’t yet have a long-term solution to fight these pests.

“It’s not looking really bright for those two species of banyans (Benjamin and Chinese) and we’ll just have to do our best with the injections,” said Stan Oka, urban forestry administrator. “We’ll treat whatever ones we can and we’re still watching the situation to see how it goes and how our treatments work and what else we have to do. In the near future, we’ll have to make some decisions as to the effectiveness of the treatments and what our next steps will be.”

The announcement comes just one week after city-contracted crews cut down two mature Benjamin banyan trees in Thomas Square.

“We don’t know exactly how many trees are infected,” Oka said. “We’ve treated pretty close to 400 trees already, but I know there are trees, spotted trees, in different areas of the island that we haven’t gotten to.”

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