Pine beetles have ministry of environment concerned

While your typical mountain pine beetle may appear to be harmless, a provincial forest entomologist and pathologist says looks can be deceiving.

Ministry of Environment representative Dr. Rory McIntosh was at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library on Tuesday to help educate people about how dangerous the beetle is in large groups, especially in northern Saskatchewan.

“It’s kind of safety in numbers,” he says. “They’ll attack the tree and overcome it. They bring with them a blue stain fungus, and together they end up killing the tree.”


Timber companies can’t see the consequences for the trees

British Columbia is in the midst of an unprecedented and unsustainable salvage operation in its interior forests because of the attack of the mountain pine beetle.

And yet, when two of the province’s biggest forestry companies were caught going into those woods and cutting truckloads of healthy green timber meant for future harvests, Forests Minister Steve Thomson’s reaction was as mild as a milk-sated kitten.

After forestry-ministry staff raised alarms, Mr. Thomson signed an order that could have led to hefty penalties for Canfor and West Fraser for taking greenwood in an area where they were supposed to be targeting the dead and dying pine.


Lawrence County set for its beetle war

David Heck is in a pitched battle.

Overhead, soaring above the crowns of ponderosa pines and creek-carved canyons is his aerial support, securing time-sensitive imagery marking the progress of his troops.

On the ground, spotters and sawyers weave beneath a browning canopy, crossing streams and climbing mountains, all to gain higher ground.


$3M supports mountain pine beetle research collaboration

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has given a University of Alberta-led research network of forest scientists and stakeholders a $3-million funding boost.

Janice Cooke, a researcher in the university’s Department of Biological Sciences, received the Strategic Network Grant from NSERC to invest in her Turning Risk Into Action Network (TRIA-Net), an interdisciplinary team of scientists and forest practitioners from government, not-for-profit and industry organizations addressing the spread of the devastating forest insect.

Building on the strengths of the TRIA research consortium that began in 2007, the collaborative network will use a novel approach that integrates genomics, molecular analysis, population genetics, systematics, ecology, population dynamics and modelling to improve our understanding of how mountain pine beetles interact with their pine hosts and the fungal symbionts that the beetles carry, how environmental conditions affect these interactions and how the genetics of these organisms may influence mountain pine beetle spread.


WorkSafeBC revises rules, cracks down on sawmills

B.C. forest companies face new, prescriptive regulations that define how much sawdust can settle in a wood-products plant before it is considered a hazard, almost two years after the deaths of four workers in sawmill explosions.

The new regime has been rolled out in the midst of a safety crackdown by WorkSafeBC inspectors on B.C. sawmills.

Sawdust has been identified as the key fuel that fed a massive fireball that flattened the Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake in January, 2012, leaving two workers dead and another 20 seriously injured.