Spruce Beetle Infestation Worsens
Prince George, B.C. – The amount of forest affected by the spruce beetle infestation continues to grow.
The provincial government says an updated inventory of spruce beetle-damaged forest in the Prince George and Mackenzie districts shows an increase in the number of hectares that have been affected compared to this time last year.
The update is the result of aerial surveys conducted over the summer. The total estimated spruce beetle attack in these areas is about 210,000 hectares, most of which (137,000 hectares) is in the Prince George district.
In October 2015, a survey showed 156,000 hectares of spruce beetle-infested forest in the entire Omineca region. The latest results are based on preliminary data with the final results expected later this fall.
This update has been provided in advance of a two-day spruce beetle summit scheduled in Prince George tomorrow and Thursday.
The government expects it will draw 100 academics, researchers, stakeholders and government staff to discuss best practices and the latest research on spruce beetle management.
This summer, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations committed $480,000 for spruce beetle detection, in addition to the $1 million announced previously for spruce beetle detection and research in 2016-17.
Mitigation efforts include a focus on logging spruce beetle-infested trees on the timber-harvesting land base and using “trap” trees in areas outside the timber-harvesting land base. Some licensees are actively harvesting infested trees in an effort to slow the beetle’s spread while B.C.’s chief forester is also monitoring the situation.
According to the ministry, the spruce beetle is native to BC and recorded outbreaks have occurred periodically since the 1940s, each one typically lasting six to eight years.
And while the spruce beetle is a concern, the ministry notes the potential for damage is not on the same scale as the mountain pine beetle outbreak that had a major impact on the timber supply in the Interior.
The Omineca region contains 9,018,763 hectares of forest, with just over half of that available for logging. Spruce represents about 22% of the average annual timber harvest in B.C.’s Interior over the past five years.