2015-03-26

Study Exonerates Beetle From Claims Of Added Wildfire Risk

It is climate change, not the mountain pine beetle, we should be worried about.

Researchers have found that forests infested by the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), which is present in thousands of miles of forest in western North America from Mexico to British Columbia, has no added effect on the risk of wildfires compared to forests unaffected by the insect. Instead, it is more important for policy makers to address the bigger causes of forest fires, the researchers say.

"The bottom line is that forests infested by the mountain pine beetle are not more likely to burn at a regional scale," says Sarah Hart, postdoctoral researcher at the Colorado University-Boulder and lead researcher. "We found that alterations in the forest infested by the mountain pine beetle are not as important in fires as overriding drivers like climate and topography."