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Province working on plan to combat Omineca spruce beetle outbreak

As if the mountain pine beetle wasn’t enough.

The spruce beetle is now working its way through northern forests.

According to ministry of forests’ 2016 aerial overview survey, about 210,000 hectares of forest in the Omineca region are currently impacted by spruce beetles, compared to about 156,000 hectares in October 2015. To date, the ministry has committed $1.95 million for spruce beetle mitigation efforts.

The province has unveiled a new strategy to mitigate the effects of a spruce beetle outbreak in the Omineca region. Working Together: British Columbia’s Spruce Beetle Mitigation Strategy provides an overview of current efforts to detect spruce beetle populations, limit their spread and help protect timber and ecosystems for future generations.

Spruce beetle outbreaks occur periodically in British Columbia and have historically lasted up to seven or eight years. Between these outbreaks, spruce beetle populations are usually held in check by climatic conditions, natural predators and a lack of susceptible host trees.

To encourage a high level of co-operation and sharing of resources, the ministry established the Omineca Spruce Beetle Public Advisory Committee in July 2016. Committee members include academics, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local communities, First Nations, forest professionals, wildlife practitioners and forest licensees.

The ministry’s priorities for reducing the impact of the Omineca spruce outbreak are:

  • co-ordinating effective planning and implementation of mitigation measures to protect timber values
  • safeguarding non-timber values
  • preventing or reducing damage to ecosystems in areas that are susceptible to (but not yet experiencing) a spruce beetle outbreak
  • recovering the greatest possible value from dead spruce timber before it decays or is damaged by wildfire
  • restoring forest resources in areas affected by spruce beetle outbreaks

The ministry says it will continue to work with its partners to achieve a workable balance between safeguarding the mid-term timber supply, protecting non-timber values and limiting the loss of marketable timber due to spruce beetle damage.

Quick Facts:

  • The spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) is a forest pest that is native to spruce forests of western North America and attacks the inner bark of these trees. When spruce beetle populations are higher than normal, they are better positioned to attack and kill standing spruce trees that are otherwise healthy.
  • Spruce beetle outbreaks occur periodically in British Columbia and have historically lasted up to seven or eight years. Between these cyclical outbreaks, spruce beetle populations are usually held in check by climatic conditions, predation (by woodpeckers, flies and other beetle species) and a lack of susceptible host trees.
  • A spruce beetle outbreak has the potential to seriously harm or kill trees over large areas, wherever mature spruce trees grow.

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