BC forest devastation expands

Wednesday 7 Feb 2018

BC's spruce beetle outbreak in its forests is now the largest in recorded history.The outbreak of spruce beetle infestation in north-central BC rose to record-breaking levels in 2017, and the latest government data shows no sign of it slowing down.

Aerial surveys revealed 340,000 hectares of forest are now impacted by the beetle — more than 45 times the pre-outbreak levels of 7,653 hectares recorded in 2013.

"This is a significant concern," said Jeanne Robert, the regional forest entomologist for the Omineca and Northeast regions with BC's Ministry of Forests, calling the outbreak "larger and more severe than we have seen in the past."

Still not as severe as mountain pine beetle

The current outbreak was declared in 2015, after higher-than-normal spruce beetle numbers were recorded in 2014. Since then, the area affected by beetles has been growing exponentially.

The current outbreak is centred near Mackenzie, approximately 200 kilometres north of Prince George. The infestation has spread north toward the Yukon border, west into the Smithers region, and east into the Robson Valley near the BC-Alberta border, as well as worsening in the Prince George-Mackenzie region.

Robert said because spruce tend to grow in more ecologically diverse areas, the impact of the infestation likely wouldn't be as severe as the mountain pine beetle outbreak that destroyed over 18 million hectares of BC forests and continues to spread into Alberta.

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Source: cbc.ca

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