$16-millions in forest studies to focus on climate change, beetle damage

The B.C. government confirmed funding Tuesday for a $16.1 million forestry research program through its forest investment account.

Forests and Range Minister Rich Coleman announced in a news release that funding has been approved for the 2007-08 forest sciences program budget.

Research topics covered include climate change, fire hazards, harvesting techniques and mountain pine beetle issues, Coleman said.

The science program is one of five programs Victoria funds through its forest investment account. A 14-member forest science board advises the government on funding priorities. This year 267 projects have been approved.

Climate change studies included in this year's funding will include research into:

- The impact that changes in temperature and precipitation levels may have on the sub-boreal spruce forest and interior grass lands ecosystems.

- The impact of weather changes on species such as interior Douglas fir and on forest pests such as bark beetles.

First nations programs approved include a collaborative study by the University of British Columbia and the Gitxaala and Nuxalk First Nations incorporating traditional ecological knowledge into modern forest practices.

Wildfire studies will focus on urban interface areas and post-fire flooding.

Mountain pine beetle research will also cover flooding issues, specifically impacts of the combined effects of the beetle infestation and salvage harvesting on waterflow.

Researchers will also look at how to harvest beetle-killed lodgepole pine while protecting younger trees and non-pine species.

The provincial government has funded $52 million in the science research program since it was created in 2004.