Climate-Driven Pest Devours Canada's Forests

Environmentalists and researchers say that climate change is a significant factor in the pine beetle epidemic that has ravaged forests in the western Canadian provinces of British Columbia (BC) and Alberta.

In some areas of the BC interior, almost 80 percent of the lodgepole pines will have been devastated by the beetles within 10 years, resulting in widespread economic consequences, according to resource experts.


UNBC studying pine beetle’s effect on climate

Could the mountain pine beetle epidemic and the associated increase in logging be contributing to global warming?

UNBC researcher Art Fredeen believes it’s likely and is conducting research – in partnership with UBC and the B.C. Ministry of Forests and Range – to determine how much of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide will be put into Earth’s atmosphere because of the beetle infestation.

“We’re likely looking at a positive feedback loop. The mountain pine beetle has been favoured by these warm winters linked to climate change,” Fredeen said. “[And] if trees are cut down or killed by the pine beetle, they don’t absorb carbon anymore. Climate change may be a final result.”