Pine beetle theatens B.C. growth

The trillions of mountain pine beetles eating their way through British Columbia's forests could also gnaw away a significant chunk of the province's economy, according to a new report commissioned by the Business Council of B.C.

The current beetle epidemic is expected to kill 80% of the province's pine, leaving in its wake enormous tracts of wood that can't profitably be turned into lumber and a dramatically shrunken forest industry. Ultimately, the report found, that could lead to a 20%-to-40% reduction in the province's interior forest industry.

As a result, B.C.'s economic base could contract between 3.8% and 7.6%, enough that the report's author, Don Wright, former B.C. deputy minister of forests, said one of the country's rosiest economies could be at risk of a future recession.