News Brief

Beetles Threaten British Columbia Forest Catastrophe

Strengthened by warm winters, mountain pine beetles are threatening British Columbia’s lodgepole pine forestland.

Source: Natural Resources Canada © 2005 Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada
A plague of mountain pine beetles in British Columbia’s lodgepole pine forests has so far claimed 17.3 million acres (7 million ha) of forest. Temperatures in British Columbia haven’t been warmer in 8,000 years, and global warming is unfolding 50 years in advance of forecasts in some areas, Richard Hebda, Ph.D., a curator of botany and earth history at the Royal B.C. Museum, told the

Toronto Globe and Mail. No longer regenerated by periodic burning by Native Americans, the aging and stressed forest is ripe for beetles, while warm winters are allowing beetle populations to grow and spread unchecked. According to the

Washington Post, U.S. officials are watching for an outbreak, although damage could be limited by the more fractured nature of the U.S. lodgepole pine population. Meanwhile, scientists speculate that the forest may never come back—at least not without an ice age to subdue the beetles.

Published June 7, 2006 Permalink

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