BC’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources says it’s partnering with forest companies and First Nations to battle the spruce beetle outbreak affecting the Omineca region.
In 2015, the affected area was measured at 156,000 hectares. By 2016, that had increased to 210,000 hectares, according to the Ministry’s aerial overview survey. The Ministry has committed $1.95 million so far to mitigate the beetle’s effects.
Spruce beetle outbreaks are a normal occurrence in the province, usually lasting seven to eight years at a time. Outbreaks occur when the beetle population increases, allowing them to attack and kill healthy spruce trees.
Outbreaks are usually curtailed or ended by climate conditions, predators or a lack of suitable host trees. However, recent warm and short winters have not been enough to stop the beetle’s spread.
In October, the Ministry gathered 100 experts in Prince George to discuss possible strategies
Now, they have Working Together: British Columbia’s Spruce Beetle Mitigation Strategy, which includes:
- 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; and
- restoring forest resources in areas affected by spruce beetle outbreaks.
“The key to the new strategy’s effectiveness was bringing together government, forest licensees, First Nations and communities early in the process and asking them to help develop a comprehensive plan to tackle this outbreak head-on,” Minister Steve Thomson said in a statement. This is being done through the Omineca Spruce Beetle Public Advisory Committee, a group created in July 2016 to share information and resources on the issue.
Meanwhile, the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition, which was established in 2005 to combat the pine beetle epidemic, is being defunded.