Bark trouble.

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Switzerland's forests are under attack from a foe--the bark beetle--that has thrived in the hot, dry conditions of the recent heat wave.

The ips typographus or bark beetle has a soft spot for spruce trees, which is had news for cantons like Bern where spruces account for about 50 per cent of all forests.

"The situation is critical," said Adrian Meier, who is spearheading efforts in canton Bern to minimise the spread of the insect attack.

Of some 170,000 hectares of forest in the canton, almost 10 per cent is categorised as being at risk.

"If we don't win the fight, much is at stake--villages mid roads could be at increased threat from avalanches and rock falls," says Meier.

Christian yon Grunigen, who is responsible for the canton's forests in the Simmental, Saanenland and Frutigen, has been monitoring the rapid advance of the bark beetle.

"When the beetle arrives on the bark, the tree can...

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