Drought could reverse drop in bark beetle numbers

The amount of Nevada forest under assault from bark beetles and similar bugs dropped significantly last year, a promising trend experts said could be reversed in a big way should the current drought continue much longer.

All across the state, populations of tree-killing insects plummeted in 2013 from levels seen in 2012, a change revealed by aerial surveys, said Gene Phillips, forest health specialist for the Nevada Division of Forestry.

"These are some pretty dramatic decreases," Phillips said.


Climate mitigation plan needed

Are the forest fires ripping through British Columbia’s vast stands of beetle-killed forests on the parched Interior plateau a portent of the growing economic consequences of impending climate change?

There’s compelling evidence they are, and that we should be paying close attention.

First, there’s the trend to mild winters that permit the pine beetle, whose population is normally controlled by severe temperatures, to both grow explosively and broaden its range exponentially. In a scant decade, what was a minor economic pest has morphed into an environmental peril with a huge price. B.C.’s forests are a $10 billion segment of the economy which sustains 56,000 direct jobs and $2.4 billion in employee earnings.


B.C. scientists seek forest management strategies to slow climate change

A five-year project by B.C.’s four leading research universities will draw a roadmap for forest management to help the industry cope with climate change, and even slow its advance.

The ability of the province’s 55 million hectares of forest to capture atmospheric carbon has been seriously hampered by the extent of pine forests killed by the mountain pine beetle, an area that now tops 18 million hectares, according to the project’s lead scientist Werner Kurz.

The Forest Carbon Management Project, funded by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions and led by the University of Victoria, will engage academics, government officials and scientists, First Nations and industry leaders with the goal of maximizing the potential of our forests to capture and store carbon, both in the living forest, soil-based carbon sinks and in long-lasting products of the forest industry such as furniture and buildings.


Fires rip through B.C.’s tinder-dry, pine beetle-killed forests

More than half a dozen major fires are burning in vast dead pine forests killed by mountain pine beetles, increasing risks to firefighters and communities.

Fires in beetle-killed pine stands can spread more quickly than in healthy forests, burn more intensely, and the flying embers can start spot fires more often and farther away. In the older dead pine stands, falling trees are a significant threat to firefighters.

“It makes things more difficult for fighting fires and creates uncertainty,” said Daniel Perrakis, a lead fire behaviour research scientist for the B.C. Ministry of Forests.


Government continues attack on Alberta’s pine beetle infestation

Containing and treating the mountain pine beetle infestation in Alberta’s forests will be an ongoing battle this year, after a lack of extended frigid temperatures this winter failed to hinder the pest’s population.

The results of the 2014 field surveys are “mixed,” Alberta Environment Minister Robin Campbell said Wednesday.

The counts show that because beetles continue to survive the winter, aggressive treatment, rehabilitation and preventive action remains the best option for addressing beetle infestations across Alberta.