2012-05-31

Pine beetles contributing to forest smog, study shows

Anyone who has seen the damage caused by the mountain pine beetle infestation, which has devastated millions of hectares of forest in B.C., Alberta and parts of the U.S., doesn't need any more evidence of the destructive powers of this pest.

In B.C. alone, 18.1 million hectares, or about five Vancouver Islands' worth, of pine forest have been attacked by the beetle since the current epidemic began in 1996. The province expects the infestation to eliminate 80 per cent of its mature lodgepole pine trees by 2013.

The infestation has spread to Alberta and Saskatchewan, and in the western U.S. it has affected more than 17 million hectares of forest, with the U.S. Forest Service estimating that 100,000 infested trees fall to the ground daily just in southern Wyoming and northern Colorado.