Spruce bark beetle activity spikes in Southcentral

Spruce bark beetle activity in Southcentral Alaska has jumped this summer, though it’s not as widespread as it was in the 1990s.

The U.S. Forest Service measured an sharp increase in the number of acres of forest affected by spruce bark beetles between 2016 and 2017, according to a briefing paper published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The activity this summer is nearly 30 times what it was in 2014, according to the briefing.

“In 2017, mortality cause by spruce beetles occurred on nearly 450,000 acres,” the paper states. “… On the Kenai Peninsula, trees missed during previous outbreaks were attacked. North of the Kenai, trees were infested where outbreaks have previously been mostly absent.”


Pine trees may be defending themselves against pine beetles in the wrong way, U of C researcher finds

A toxic chemical that lodgepole pines produce to defend themselves from pine beetles may be leading to their downfall, according to research by a University of Calgary professor.

“The trees that got attacked in the (pine beetle) outbreak in Banff a few years ago tended to be the ones with more of the defensive resin ducts than the ones that were not attacked,” explained pine beetle expert Mary Reid.

The smell of defensive chemicals produced by the pine trees, which are called monoterpenes, is like perfume to the beetles, which are more likely to attack trees with more monoterpenes.


Pine beetles not responsible for wildfires, research shows

There have been growing fears in British Columbia that an increasing number of catastrophic wildfires could erupt because more than 18 million hectares of forest have been killed by a pine-beetle epidemic over the past two decades.

But new research shows that beetle infestations affecting millions of hectares in the U.S. Pacific Northwest have not been causing more severe wildfires.

“Insect outbreak areas may not be as much of a fire hazard as we previously thought,” Garrett Meigs, the lead author of the study, said in an interview on Thursday.


B.C.'s pine beetle-gnawed, carbon spewing forests recovering quickly says UVic researcher

A study out of University of Victoria says nature is finding a way to heal from the devastation of British Columbia’s mountain pine beetle outbreak.

The research from the UVic-led Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions says global warming is making B.C. forests grow faster and the trees are taking in more carbon dioxide, the gas associated with the globe’s steadily climbing temperatures.

Under normal conditions, forests act as so-called “carbon sinks,” scrubbing the atmosphere by pulling in CO2 while releasing oxygen.


Grappling with pest problems, forestry sector seeks new markets

The mountain pine beetle has had a huge impact on B.C.'s forest industry, but it's not the only issue facing the industry.

The Council of Forest Industries held its annual general meeting in Kelowna this week. One of the issues discussed was how the forestry industry can be competitive in the face of the pine beetle and other threats.

The conference winds up today, but before the conference began, Susan Yurkovich, president and CEO of the Council of Forest Industries spoke with Radio West host Audrey McKinnon.