A new strategy highlights how the B.C. government, forest companies and First Nations are working together to mitigate the effects of a spruce beetle outbreak in the Omineca region.
According to the ministry’s 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.
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 commitment demonstrated by this ongoing partnership bodes well for B.C.’s forest industry and will help build a brighter future for B.C. communities.
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 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.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations –
“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.”
Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and Prince George-Mackenzie MLA –
“Many rural communities in B.C., including those in the Omineca, depend on the natural resource sector for their economic livelihood. I’m confident that the steps we’ve taken to mitigate this spruce beetle outbreak will benefit the people of this region in the long term.”
Donna Barnett, Minister of State for Rural Economic Development –
“The forest industry is a primary driver of rural economic activity in this region of British Columbia. The new spruce beetle strategy lays out a clear plan to deal with the current outbreak, in partnership with local communities and forest licensees.”
Susan Yurkovich, president, Council of Forest Industries –
“It’s imperative that we take urgent action to prevent the spread of the spruce beetle, protect the timber supply in the Omineca, and the sustainability of the forests. This strategy provides a framework for those actions.”
- 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.
More information about spruce beetles in British Columbia and Working Together: British Columbia’s Spruce Beetle Mitigation Strategy are available online: http://www.gov.bc.ca/ominecasprucebeetle