Warm November Temperatures Impacting Forest Health
Prince George, B.C. – Prince George residents may be enjoying the record breaking warm temperatures this month but it’s not all good news.
Kathy Lewis, chair of Ecosystem Science and Management at UNBC, says it can have negative consequences on the health of our forests.
“I think we do need to be paying attention to that and it’s not just the single events like we just recently experienced,” she says. “It’s also the slow and steady climb in temperature and a change in precipitation.”
Lewis says northerners are well aware the impacts that can have.
“So anytime that the climate changes, pathogens and insects are highly driven or controlled by the environment,” says Lewis.
“As an example we just finished experiencing the major mountain pine beetle outbreak and that had a number of causes behind it but one of the major ones is we aren’t getting the cold winters any more which kill the larva off. And so now populations are able to expand greatly.”
Consequently, she says we’ll soon be seeing a reduction in timber supply which will have far reaching effects “for quite a few years.”
Lewis says climate change will bring other problems too.
“We’ve been observing an increase in a foliar pathogen called dothistroma which really needs moist conditions to reproduce and to spread and some areas of the province are getting wetter,” she says.
“Like in the northwest around Smithers and even parts around Prince George we’re seeing increase in the impact of this foliar disease and 20 years we didn’t hardly even know about it.”
So, what could government could do to address the issue?
“I think we really need to be putting pressure on the powers that be to really get serious about trying to mitigate climate change,” says Lewis.
“In my opinion we really need to hit it at the source, and not just think about moving tree species around to accommodate for changes in the climate but actually try to slow down and hopefully even reverse some of the changes that we are experiencing.”