OTTAWA - Canada's federal government will invest more than $68 million to combat the mountain pine beetle, one of the most invasive pests in North American forests.
Native to Western North America, mountain pine beetles have destroyed vast areas of ponderosa and lodgepole pine forest, including more than 16 million hectares (40 million acres) of the 5 million hectares (12 million acres) of forest in British Columbia alone.
"The mountain pine beetle has been hurting our forests, harming our economy, increasing wildlife risk, reducing our ability to enjoy the parks that showcase Canada's stunning natural beauty," said Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan. "In Alberta alone, the pine beetle is jeopardizing $9 billion of pine timber. It could reach anywhere that a pine tree grows."
Spread out over the next three years, the funding includes:
- $60 million to the Government of Alberta for forest management and research
- $6.9 million to Parks Canada to mitigate mountain pine beetle impacts, including wildfire risks in the Rocky Mountain National Parks
- $1.5 million to Natural Resources Canada to enhance its core research program
Wood product companies quickly spoke out in support.
"The Government of Canada is to be commended for its action on mountain pine beetle," said Jason Krips, President and CEO of the Alberta Forest Products Association. "The beetle is a threat to the environment and jobs in Alberta and throughout Canada . This funding will support work to mitigate the beetle's spread and maintain healthy forests."
Mountain pine beetles affect pine trees by laying eggs under the bark. The beetles introduce blue stain fungus into the sapwood that prevents the tree from repelling and killing the attacking beetles with tree pitch flow. The fungus also blocks water and nutrient transport within the tree. Host trees are killed within a few weeks of successful attack.