2011-11-30

Pine beetle logging's negative impact

It's been a full decade since the B.C. government started increasing the annual allowable cut of lodgepole pine stands by an average 80 per cent — in some areas, much higher — in the battle against an infestation of pine beetles that was wiping out trees.

The province promised that salvage logging of Interior pine forests would respect "other forest values" — the environment — but is that what happened?

A lengthy investigation by The Vancouver Sun shows that large-scale salvage logging has had wide-ranging negative environmental impacts that extend well beyond the death of pine trees due to beetle attack.

2011-11-29

Pine beetle toll on Alberta forest falls by half

Alberta said Tuesday that its annual aerial survey of pine beetle-infested forest shows the number of trees killed by the invasive insect fell by half compared with last year.

"I don't think we'd claim total victory, but we are clearly having an impact," said Sustainable Resource Development Minister Frank Oberle. "We have about 50 per cent fewer red trees this year than last year." Pines killed by the beetle turn red about one year after they die.

"They've made considerable efforts," said Allan Carroll, a professor in the department of forest sciences at the University of British Columbia. "They've been very, very rigorous in their approach, and I think they certainly have achieved a positive result.

Alberta makes progress fighting eastward march of tree-killing pine beetle

New aerial photos suggest Alberta is making progress halting the eastward march of the voracious, tree-killing mountain pine beetle.

The surveys show about 50 per cent fewer red beetle-killed pine trees where control programs are in effect, primarily in west-central Alberta and east to Slave Lake.

"This year's surveys show some positive results where the province's mountain pine beetle control strategy has been most aggressive," said Sustainable Resource Development Minister Frank Oberle in a news release.

Pine beetle numbers dwindle in Alberta forest

Alberta said Tuesday that its annual aerial survey of pine beetle-infested forest shows the number of trees killed by the invasive insect fell by half compared with last year.

"I don't think we'd claim total victory, but we are clearly having an impact," said Sustainable Resource Development Minister Frank Oberle. "We have about 50 per cent fewer red trees this year than last year." Pines killed by the beetle turn red about one year after they die.

"They've made considerable efforts," said Allan Carroll, a professor in the department of forest sciences at the University of British Columbia. "They've been very, very rigorous in their approach, and I think they certainly have achieved a positive result.

2011-11-28

Washington scrambles to fight massive tree destruction

So many pine, fir and spruce trees in the Northwest are riddled with bugs and disease that major tree die-offs are expected to rip through a third of Eastern Washington forests — an area covering nearly 3 million acres — in the next 15 years, according to new state projections.

Because Washington’s forests are deteriorating so quickly, the state commissioner of public lands has said he’ll appoint an emergency panel of scientists and foresters to seek ways to stabilize or reverse the decline.

The problem is largely centered on tree-killing scourges such as the mountain pine beetle, which is spreading rapidly and getting into ever higher-elevation trees such as the troubled whitebark pine.

2011-11-26

Injunction seeks to prevent pointless destruction of land

The Tsilhqot'in Nation will seek Monday to protect a prized area of its territories from being damaged by exploration work based on permits that were granted in breach of the Crown's consultation obligations for a mining proposal that has already been rejected in an extensive and independent environmental assessment.

Taseko Mines Ltd argued in court earlier this month when the injunctions battle began that it would be doing work on an area that is already dead because of the pine beetle. In fact, however, the Little Fish Lake area that is the target of planned roads and drilling is a vibrant, thriving area.

"The Tsilhqot'in are seeking an injunction to prevent exploration work from proceeding, and we have a separate application before the courts for a judicial review of the BC permits granted for the work, which we believe were illegal and must be revoked or suspended," said Tsilhqot'in Tribal Chair Joe Alphonse.

2011-11-24

Canada says US softwood claims are "baseless"

The Canadian government says American complaints that British Columbia has violated the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement are “baseless” relying selected information that does not portray the extent of the mountain pine beetle’s disastrous impact on this province’s timber supply.

Canada’s defence of B.C. timber pricing was released Tuesday after being filed earlier in the month with the London Court of International Arbitration. The 207-page-long document is in response to a complaint filed with the court by the United States. The U.S. alleges that B.C. Interior sawmills have unfairly benefited from the mountain pine beetle epidemic by paying salvage log prices of 25 cents a cubic metre for timber that was successfully milled into lumber.

The U.S. is claiming $499 million in damages.

State scrambles to fight massive tree die-offs

So many pine, fir and spruce trees in the Northwest are riddled with bugs and disease that major tree die-offs are expected to rip through a third of Eastern Washington forests — an area covering nearly 3 million acres — in the next 15 years, according to new state projections.

Because Washington's forests are deteriorating so quickly, the state commissioner of public lands last week said he'll appoint an emergency panel of scientists and foresters to seek ways to stabilize or reverse the decline.

The problem, as The Seattle Times reported earlier this month, is largely centered on tree-killing scourges such as the mountain pine beetle, which is spreading rapidly and getting into ever higher-elevation trees such as the troubled whitebark pine.

Pine Beetles defying anti-infestation efforts in Alberta

Mountain pine beetles are still thriving in parts of Alberta and are spreading east despite $300 million and years of effort to thwart the tiny tree-killers.

A new generation of bugs took flight this summer, with some landing in mixed boreal forest close to the Saskatchewan boundary.

Experts have been reviewing the spread of the infestation as the Alberta government plans a new winter campaign to cut, remove and burn stricken trees. Last winter, 170,000 trees were destroyed in a bid to reduce the threat.

2011-11-20

Early detection key in fighting Mountain Pine Beetle

News that the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation, which has decimated the central interior of British Columbia, had made its way over the Rocky Mountains to Alberta is a cause for concern amongst entomologists.

Earlier this year it was discovered that these beetles had successfully made the transition from Lodgepole Pine, B.C. to Jack Pine in Alberta. This spells bad news for the boreal forests of Saskatchewan if the beetle continues its migration east.

Forestry Insect and Disease expert with the Ministry, Dr. Rory McIntosh feels a new approach is needed in monitoring the beetles.

2011-11-11

Burning wood waste for energy not entirely a clear-cut call

Forest management in British Columbia is coming under scrutiny as the province's drive to develop a bioenergy industry moves into the beetlekilled pine stands of the central Interior.

B.C. is committed to using wood to generate electricity - BC Hydro has already conducted two calls for proposals on bioenergy projects - but questions are being raised by scientists and environmentalists alike on how much wood can be removed and whether or not it truly is a carbon-neutral source of energy.

Leading the fray against bioenergy is Greenpeace, which released a report Nov. 2 calling for tighter controls on harvesting biomass, more detailed carbon accounting, and restricting bioenergy projects to small, local operations.

2011-11-03

These beetles are far from boring

Beetles, like other creatures in nature, are a very important part of the ecosystem. The picture you see is that of a beetle in the Canadian Rockies. The Canadian Rockies shelter some of the world’s largest and best national parks which offer some of the most spectacular scenery. The two world-famous parks are Banff and Jasper.

The coniferous trees with the snow-capped mountains as backdrop leave visitors gasping for breath. The lakes in the park are beautiful in themselves with their crystal clear turquoise coloured water. More importantly, one can see the reflection of the trees and mountains in them which gives a picture postcard view.

The Boring Beetles are a species called Mountain Pine Beetle. They play an important role in the survival of the beautiful forest since they kill mature or old lodgepole pine trees by “boring” or drilling into them. This is a blessing since it enables new species of plants and animals to thrive.

The forests of the future climate

Oregon State University has released a new study that says climate change, insect attacks, diseases and fire are causing huge migration of trees across the West.

Researchers looked at how 15 species of conifer trees are already migrating, and they predict what the forests of the future climate will look like.

“The forests of our future are going to look quite different,” said Richard Waring, professor emeritus at OSU and lead author of the study. “We can’t predict exactly which tree (species) will die or which one will take its place, but we can see the long-term trends and probabilities.”

Researchers say climate change is changing Pacific Northwest forest structure as well

A new study by forest researchers suggests some types of trees will lose ground to other species as climate change raises temperatures and tweaks precipitation patterns.

That could be bad news for lodgepole pine forests in southern Oregon, which have been devastated by bark beetle infestations and now may have a tough time making a comeback. Douglas fir and ponderosa pine, which are more adaptable, may move into the pine's territory.

The study predicts "large scale disturbances" in Pacific Northwest forests as temperatures rise 5 to 9 degrees by 2080, with more rain in winter and spring, reduced snowpacks and dryer summers.