BC's Mountain Pine Beetle Kill (80% by 2013)
Date: Wednesday, January 18 2006
British Columbia’s Mountain Pine Beetle Action Plan 2005–2010
British Columbia is currently experiencing the largest recorded mountain pine beetle outbreak in North America. This forest health epidemic is a catastrophic natural disaster and is causing widespread mortality of lodgepole pine, the Interior’s most abundant commercial tree species. The epidemic puts forest values at risk and threatens the stability and long-term economic well-being of many communities. This plan builds on the Action Plans developed and implemented by the government over the past three years. During that time the epidemic has spread, and is no longer just a forestry problem. Therefore, this plan provides a broader, longer term approach involving all appropriate government ministries. It provides an overview of the Province’s response. It sets out objectives and actions aimed at mitigating the social, economic and environmental consequences of this widespread forest damage now and in the future.
The province’s total inventory of mature lodgepole pine (at least 80 years old) is approximately 1 billion cubic metres. Mountain pine beetles have reached epidemic levels several times over the last century in B.C., however past outbreaks were generally confined to limited geographic areas and were typically curtailed by cold weather. The current beetle epidemic has now killed approximately 283 million cubic metres of timber, with an annual red attack coverage of 7 million hectares in the central and southern interior of British Columbia. The outbreak continues to kill mature pine trees in the Central Interior and is well established in the Thompson-Okanagan and Kootenay regions. Infestations are now appearing in the Peace River Region. Only if a period of extremely cold weather (e.g. -20C in the fall or -40C in late winter) occurs throughout the affected area can the epidemic be stopped. As a result, it is likely the epidemic will only be over once it has infested most of the mature pine in B.C. Ministry of Forests modeling data1 predict that at the current rate of spread, 50 per cent of the mature pine will be dead by 2008 and 80 per cent by 2013.
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on January 18, 2006]