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Northern Development announces new fund to combat effects of mountain pine beetle

The Northern Development Initiative Trust announced a new source of funding for the forest sector today.

The Forest Innovation Fund is a part of Northern Development’s long-term mitigation strategies to counter the effects of the mountain pine beetle epidemic. Since 1999, the beetle has been responsible for the destruction of up to 80% of interior pine stands in the province.

Evan Saugstad, the Trust’s Chair, outlined the focus of the new funding.

“The fund will provide $1 million in grants over a 2 year period for small and medium size companies and community forests in areas directly impacted by the mountain pine beetle and throughout the trust service area,” said Saugstad. “These funds will provide up to $50,000 in grant funding per project to support research and development, innovative technologies and new or improved products that could optimize our fibre supply and increase the forest industry’s efficiencies.”

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The funding will be allocated from Northern Development’s $26 million Pine Beetle Recovery Account. Since 2005, the account has provided nearly $25 million in funding to 246 projects throughout northern and central BC.

Saugstad said eligible projects will include innovations in biomass and harvesting and gathering techniques, as well as site remediation and seedling survival enhancement, among others.

BC Minister of Jobs Shirley Bond
BC Minister of Jobs Shirley Bond

BC Minister of Jobs Shirley Bond says the effects of the mountain pine beetle are being felt by communities throughout the province.

“During our mandate, we have invested over $1 billion in looking at how we try to mitigate the impacts of mountain pine beetle. Communities have been really challenged in our part of the province and they will continue to be.”

Bond says the new fund is all about supporting communities impacted by the pine beetle.

“For more than a decade, we’ve been investing and trying to find new ways to support communities as they battle the beetle. We’re still seeing the lasting impact there. So I think this fund is another tool that will help support communities in transition.”

Applications for funding from the Forest Innovation fundwill be considered on an ongoing basis. Eligibility, application guides and forms can be downloaded from Northern Development’s website.

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