Climate mitigation plan needed

Are the forest fires ripping through British Columbia’s vast stands of beetle-killed forests on the parched Interior plateau a portent of the growing economic consequences of impending climate change?

There’s compelling evidence they are, and that we should be paying close attention.

First, there’s the trend to mild winters that permit the pine beetle, whose population is normally controlled by severe temperatures, to both grow explosively and broaden its range exponentially. In a scant decade, what was a minor economic pest has morphed into an environmental peril with a huge price. B.C.’s forests are a $10 billion segment of the economy which sustains 56,000 direct jobs and $2.4 billion in employee earnings.


B.C. scientists seek forest management strategies to slow climate change

A five-year project by B.C.’s four leading research universities will draw a roadmap for forest management to help the industry cope with climate change, and even slow its advance.

The ability of the province’s 55 million hectares of forest to capture atmospheric carbon has been seriously hampered by the extent of pine forests killed by the mountain pine beetle, an area that now tops 18 million hectares, according to the project’s lead scientist Werner Kurz.

The Forest Carbon Management Project, funded by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions and led by the University of Victoria, will engage academics, government officials and scientists, First Nations and industry leaders with the goal of maximizing the potential of our forests to capture and store carbon, both in the living forest, soil-based carbon sinks and in long-lasting products of the forest industry such as furniture and buildings.


Fires rip through B.C.’s tinder-dry, pine beetle-killed forests

More than half a dozen major fires are burning in vast dead pine forests killed by mountain pine beetles, increasing risks to firefighters and communities.

Fires in beetle-killed pine stands can spread more quickly than in healthy forests, burn more intensely, and the flying embers can start spot fires more often and farther away. In the older dead pine stands, falling trees are a significant threat to firefighters.

“It makes things more difficult for fighting fires and creates uncertainty,” said Daniel Perrakis, a lead fire behaviour research scientist for the B.C. Ministry of Forests.


Government continues attack on Alberta’s pine beetle infestation

Containing and treating the mountain pine beetle infestation in Alberta’s forests will be an ongoing battle this year, after a lack of extended frigid temperatures this winter failed to hinder the pest’s population.

The results of the 2014 field surveys are “mixed,” Alberta Environment Minister Robin Campbell said Wednesday.

The counts show that because beetles continue to survive the winter, aggressive treatment, rehabilitation and preventive action remains the best option for addressing beetle infestations across Alberta.


Lumber Supply Could Be Impacted by British Columbia Land Ruling

North American lumber supplies and prices could be affected by a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada granting the Tsilhqot'in First Nation title claim on land in central British Columbia.

The decision, handed down June 26, gives the group exclusive right to determine how the land will be used as well as the exclusive right to reap the benefits from those uses. According to a report in the Vancouver Sun, analysts are predicting the impact of this decision on available lumber supplies and prices could reach that of the mountain pine beetle, which affected 53% of the pine in British Columbia.

The paper noted that RBC Capital Markets analyst Paul Quinn said that over the last decade British Columbia was responsible for nearly 24% of North America's lumber production and that any "delays and limitations" caused by the ruling could result in "a tighter lumber market and high prices." Quinn also told the Sun that large companies such as Western Forest Products, Conifex Timber, Canfor Corp., West Fraser Timber and Interfor Corp. were most at risk because they do not have established logging partnerships with the First Nations.

Land ruling could impact lumber market as much as pine beetle

A Supreme Court of Canada ruling on aboriginal land could eventually have as severe an impact on North American lumber supply as the mountain pine beetle, RBC Capital Markets warned on Monday.

The court’s unanimous decision on June 26 relates to a 30-year-plus land dispute between the Tsilhqot’in Nation and the British Columbia and Canadian governments. It entitles the B.C. First Nation to dictate what logging and other activities take place on its newly recognized 1,700 square kilometres of land.

“Now with an established precedent to title, the provincial/federal governments in Canada will have to consult, and gain the consent of the respective First Nation(s) when development projects/timber harvesting concern unceded land,” RBC analyst Paul Quinn told clients.